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Part of Rescue
Paracone Retrofire
Paracone Retrofire
Douglas Paracone personal orbital escape system of the 1960's
American manned rescue spacecraft. Study 1963. The Douglas Paracone was one of the most minimal schemes for bail-out from orbit. The objective was to hit a continental land mass; for such purposes totally manual re-entry operations were used.

Status: Study 1963. Payload: 89 kg (196 lb). Thrust: 431 N (96 lbf). Gross mass: 227 kg (500 lb). Unfuelled mass: 216 kg (476 lb). Specific impulse: 255 s. Height: 1.00 m (3.20 ft). Span: 7.62 m (24.99 ft).

After separation from the spacecraft, the undeployed Paracone consisted of essentially the pilot in his seat, with a small solid retrorocket motor mounted on struts above the pilot's chest.

The astronaut would first roughly orient himself and the seat facing forward along the direction of orbital motion using cold gas thrusters. Then he would ignite the solid rocket motor. The motor had 18 seconds of low level 'vernier' thrust (9 kgf), during which time the pilot could correct its alignment using hand holds on the motor. It then went into 60 seconds of full thrust (44 kgf). The Paracone was designed to handle re-entry angles resulting from up to 30 degrees misalignment of the motor. Accuracy was within 800 km of the planned impact point.

After retrofire the empty motor was discarded and a large light-weight re-entry shell was deployed from the seat by gas pressure. The same gas supply was used for the reaction control thrusters. With a low ballistic coefficient the Paracone could be made of Rene-41 alloy fabric, with a Teflon coating. Heat loads were calculated to be within the heat rejection capacity of the astronaut's portable life support system. A ballistic re-entry followed, with a peak of 9.6 G's. No parachute was required. The terminal velocity of the Paracone was 42 km/hour and impact was absorbed by the crushable structure of the cap of the cone. The total mass of the Paracone system compared favorably with that of conventional ejection seats.

The mass breakdown was:

Family: Space station orbit. Country: USA. Propellants: Solid. Agency: Douglas. Bibliography: 421.
Photo Gallery

Paracone Re-entryParacone Re-entry
Douglas Paracone with the heat shield deployed

Douglas BailoutDouglas Bailout
Douglas Bailout System Cutaway


1963 October 9 - .

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