Calculating minimal altitude to start a "Suicide Burn" with non-constant maximum thrust. | PhysicsOverflow
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  Calculating minimal altitude to start a "Suicide Burn" with non-constant maximum thrust.

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I'm trying to calculate the absolute lowest altitude to start burning the engines at full power on a simulated spacecraft so that it will just reach v=0 at the surface of a planet.

The twist here is that the thrust provided by the engines responsible for descelerating is dependent on the thickness of the atmosphere they're in, which in turn depends on the altitude they are at.

Drag is not to be taken into account.

Craft mass does not vary during descent.

Craft falls straight down.

Thrusters providing desceleration are pointed straight down along the gravity vector.

Data available:

planet g: 9.81m/s^2  (variation by altitude is insignificant at practical altitude).

Atmosphere density: Altitude = 0m -> AtmDens = 1     |     Altitude = 14400m -> AtmDens = 0

Thruster efficiency: AtmDens = 1 -> ThrustEff = 1     |     AtmDens = 0.3 -> ThrustEff = 0

CraftAltitude above surface: xSurf     is known at any time

CraftAltitude above seaLevel: xSea     is known at any time

CraftVelocity (downwards): vCraft     is known at any time

CraftMass: mCraft     is known and constant at any time

CraftMaxThrust at seaLevel: cMaxThrustSea     is known at any time (in Newton)

What I came up with (so it could be wrong):

CraftMaxThrust at xSea in Newton:

cMaxThrustSea - (cMaxThrustSea / 100) * ((100 / 0.7) * (1 - (1 - xSea / 14400)))

I figure I'm looking for some differential equation that returns an altitude. I try looking at the problem from the bottom up, as to have an initial acceleration at least, but have failed to solve it so far.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Closed by author request
asked Nov 21, 2016 in Closed Questions by daquicker (0 points) [ revision history ]
recategorized Nov 22, 2016 by Dilaton

This is not a graduate-level+ question; I am therefore voting to close this here.

However, it might be on-topic in the appropriate section of PhysicsForums.

If you prefer Q&A style discussions and as your question is not bad as such (just not on-topic for PO), it would be welcome on this new physicsproblems site

as one of their administrators told me.

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