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Journal of Aircraft


Guided parafoils arc composed of two primary bodies, a payload and parafoil. The payload encompasses the majority ofthe ovcrdll system mass; however, the parafoil generates the majority of aerodynamic loads and is the sole source of control. Despite the canopy being the source of control, the sensor systems used for guidance are located away from the parafoil. Many multi body models exist in literature and use different degrees of freedom to represent parafoil-payload relative motion. However, in many cases, simulations are used to investigate how the relative motion between bodies affects the overall dynamics without experimental validation determining the accuracy of the motion predicted. The lack of validation for para foil-payload relative motion has primarily been due to challenges in accurately measuring parafoil canopy motion, which include its flexibility, light weight, need to be packed in a small volume before deployment, and connection through suspension lines to the payload. In this paper, multiple miniature wireless sensors arc embedded in the parafoil canopy and payload during flight and are used to measure the para foilpayload relative motion. Experimental measurement are then compared with a 9 degree-of-freedom model, and relative payload-parafoil motion is analyzed.







Originally published in the Journal of Aircraft, Vol 49, No 2, 2012.