was designed to investigate flight characteristics within the atmosphere from high altitude supersonic speeds to landing, and to prove the feasibility of using lifting bodies
for return from space," says the Museum's web site.
When the Office of Naval Research decided that it needed a vessel to prove the concepts behind lifting bodies, it opted to save money by converting an existing research vessel.
According to Joel Berg, a senior staff engineer at the re-manufacturing center, the Rochester lab needed to determine if the ship's modified hull could withstand the load passed to it through new struts and lifting bodies. Among the most important analyses were those focusing on the radically different stress and modal factors in the redesigned hull.
For the converted SES, adding struts and lifting bodies changes the stresses completely--in effect, rotating them 180 degrees.
"The hull stresses generated from the struts would have to be reduced by linking the lifting bodies in some way." The struts were considered in both 20- and 25-foot designs and, in each case, they were about 30 inches thick.
The hull arrangement of the reconfigured ship resembles that of a SWATH vessel, Berg said, which stands for "small waterplane area, twin hull." This design uses lifting bodies submerged beneath twin hulls to lower water drag on the vessel.
of Canonsburg, Pa., Berg's group began modeling the complete structure of the ship--its hull, decks, stringers, and bulkheads, as well as the lifting bodies and their struts.
The geometry for the lifting bodies came from the Hawaiian shipyard.
The lifting bodies, for example, while now aluminum, could eventually be made from composites to shape them into the advanced geometries that are likely to develop.
This excellent study presents three themes: one is a chronological account of the successive models of lifting bodies
and the problems encountered in perfecting them; another is an account of the exhausting and exacting series of test procedures, which not only perfected them, but did so with only one serious accident in the twelve years of the lifting body program; and, finally, the author offers insights on the importance of personalities, the motivations, attitudes and attributes of the individuals involved.