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 Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa

nachricht Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>