Safe Landing

Problem #165

Tags: physics space simulation

Who solved this?

Play live demo to get acquainted with the physics of the rocket landing!
Try to land with the speed less than 10 m/s.

In the year of 1969 first ever people from the Earth landed on the Moon. As Neil Armstrong the commander of the Apollo 11 mission told about it one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind! However we rarely think about how technically complicated this task was.

Here is a pilot's landing simulator - imagine, you are being trained for next manned missions to the moon. I have found the game in the old book 101 BASIC Computer Games and so here is an exercise based on it.

Problem statement

You are in the space craft which is approaching the Moon. Initially you flight (or rather fall) to the surface with the great speed. However you have some fuel for landing and you can burn it in the retrorockets for "braking".

You can change the settings of the engine each 10 seconds. For each next period you specify the burning rate of the fuel - i.e. how many kilograms of fuel should be fed to the engine each second.

Try playing the demo above. You will see that burn rate could be set to any value between 0 and 100. When engines are off you are free falling - and you will see that:

If you turn on engines (i.e. set non-zero burning rate), the speed is also affected by retro-rockets according to Tsiolkovsky Rocket Equation.

You can find detailed explanations of these calculations in the article on rocket flight and gravity.

You will be given a sequence of values - successive settings of burning rate for each 10 seconds of the flight. Your goal is to tell the speed the craft will have on touch down (i.e. on reaching the height 0). Perform simulation with small steps, for example dt=0.1 sec.

Additional data you will need:

Input data will have the mass of the craft, mass of the fuel, initial height and descent velocity in the first line.
Next line will specify several values - settings of the burn rate for each next period. After the fuel is ended the further settings should be ignored. If after proceeding through all the sequence the rocket still is not on the surface, continue calculation as it is in free fall.
Answer should give single value - the speed on reaching the Moon surface. Error about 1% is acceptable.

Example #1:

input data:
7500 7500 200000 1600
0 0 0 0 0 0 0


Example #2:

input data:
6000 7000 150000 2000
0 100 100 100 50 50 50 50 50 50 100 100 100


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