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2.1: Classification of aerospace vehicles

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    77946
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    An aircraft, in a wide sense, is a vehicle capable to navigate in the air (in general, in the atmosphere of a planet) by means of a lift force. This lift appears due to two different physical phenomena:

    • aeroestatic lift, which gives name to the aerostats (lighter than the air vehicles), and
    • dynamic effects generating lift forces, which gives name to the aerodynes (heavier than the air vehicles).

    截屏2022-01-10 下午8.10.32.png
    Figure 2.2: Aerostats.

    An aerostat is a craft that remains aloft primarily through the use of lighter than air gases, which produce lift to the vehicle with nearly the same overall density as air. Aerostats include airships and aeroestatic balloons. Aerostats stay aloft by having a large "envelope" filled with a gas which is less dense than the surrounding atmosphere. See Figure 2.2 as illustration.

    Aerodynes produce lift by moving a wing through the air. Aerodynes include fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft, and are heavier-than-the-air aircraft. The first group is the one nowadays know as airplanes (also known simply as aircraft). Rotorcraft include helicopters or autogyros (Invented by the Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva in 1923).

    A special category can also be considered: ground effect aircraft. Ground effect refers to the increased lift and decreased drag that an aircraft airfoil or wing generates when an aircraft is close the ground or a surface. Missiles and space vehicles will be also analyzed as classes of aerospace vehicles.


    2.1: Classification of aerospace vehicles is shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Manuel Soler Arnedo via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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