Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Georgia Tech Advances Potential Commercial Space Flight System

16.08.2012
Last spring private industry successfully sent a spacecraft carrying cargo to the International Space Station. Now the race is on to see which company will be the first to make commercial human spaceflight a reality.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is one of three companies that will receive hundreds of millions of dollars to further develop its commercial human spacecraft system, NASA announced earlier this month.

SNC has turned to Georgia Tech for expertise on how to ensure the smoothest possible re-entry for its spacecraft, the Dream Chaser, which is reminiscent of NASA’s space shuttle.

Robert Braun, Georgia Tech professor of space technology, and his research team – Research Engineer Jennifer Kelly and engineering graduate students Zach Putnam and Mike Grant – are working with SNC on the design of an advanced guidance algorithm that will make the most of the Dream Chaser’s superior aerodynamic performance during re-entry and landing.

Of the three companies selected by NASA to develop spaceships to taxi astronauts to and from the International Space Station, Sierra Nevada Corporation is the only one with a winged vehicle. It is designed to launch vertically and land on a runway, similar to the Space Shuttle. Boeing and SpaceX are developing capsules that would land in a body of water.

Because the Dream Chaser is similar to the Space Shuttle, it could land using the same guidance algorithm the shuttle used. However, that algorithm, like the shuttle, is based on technology that is more than 40 years old; it does not take advantage of the onboard computing available for today’s space systems.

“The shuttle was built in the 1970s, and its designers didn’t have the onboard computing capabilities we have today,” Braun said. “The Dream Chaser needs an advanced entry guidance algorithm matched to its aerodynamic and onboard computing capability.”

Braun and his team took the Dream Chaser’s aerodynamic configuration, control surfaces and mass properties into account when developing the algorithm. To date, the algorithm runs a computer simulation that allows SNC engineers to tweak aspects of the spacecraft design based on scenarios such as rough atmospheric conditions to perfect the landing process.

The result is an algorithm that “allows the vehicle to fly how it was meant to fly,” Putnam said.

Georgia Tech engineers are on track to deliver the software to the SNC team this month.

Zachary Krevor, a Georgia Tech graduate who is SNC’s principal systems engineer with the flight dynamic and performance group, is eager to see the results.

“This is important for us because we feel the algorithm could have performance benefits for our vehicle and make it robust to atmospheric disturbances while ensuring we have a ‘low g’ re-entry,” he said. “Capsules do not have the ‘low g’ re-entry that is so important for both astronauts and sensitive science payloads.”

For the students, the project provides real-world experience in the nascent commercial space industry.

“To be able to participate in the new era of commercial flight is very exciting,” Grant said. “It has been a great learning experience to see how commercial space companies work and a real thrill to contribute in a meaningful way to the potential flight of this new space flight system.”

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser received an award of $212.5 million from NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Program on August 3 that will allow the company to complete development of the system and transport crews to space as early as 2016. An approach and landing test for the Dream Chaser is scheduled for later this year.

About Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems business area, headquartered in Louisville, Colo., designs and manufactures advanced spacecraft, space vehicles, rocket motors and spacecraft subsystems and components for the U.S. government, commercial customers and the international market. SNC Space Systems has more than 25 years of space heritage and has participated in more than 400 successful space missions through the delivery of more than 4,000 systems, subsystems and components. During its history, SNC Space Systems has concluded more than 70 programs for NASA and more than 50 other clients. For more information about SNC Space Systems, visit www.sncspace.com.

About the Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities, the Institute enrolls 21,000 students within its six colleges. Georgia Tech is the nation's leading producer of engineers as well as a leading producer of female and minority engineering Ph.D. graduates. Holding more than 780 patents and receiving approximately $570 million in sponsored awards, Georgia Tech ranks among the nation's top ten universities (without a medical school) in research expenditures. Visit www.gatech.edu for more information.

Liz Klipp | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

nachricht What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>