Configuration Study of Structurally Integrated Thermal Protection Systems for a Sub-Orbital Platform
Keywords:Thermal protection system, Aerodynamic heating, Thermo structural analysis, Fibrous insulation, Computational simulation.
AbstractThe atmospheric hypersonic flight of sub-orbital and space vehicles generates aerodynamic heating and high wall heat fluxes, inducing high temperatures on the vehicle’s structures and affecting their mechanical behavior, besides degrading the operation of board equipment. Furthermore, since payload preservation is always mandatory, the use of efficient Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) is a key-requirement for any spacecraft design. As an outcome, designing the TPS is a critical aspect of any rocket development program, since an undersized system may result in catastrophic failure, and an oversized one implies increased mass and cost. Sub-orbital platforms are a low-cost alternative for microgravity research. A sub-orbital platform (SARA) is being developed by Instituto de Aeronáutica e Espaço (IAE) for such an application, and its current design uses a conventional layer of cork as TPS to protect its lateral surface, with the trade-off of large mass. Alternatively, a Thermally Integrated Structural Sandwich Core (TISSC), which consists of a structural sandwich panel in a three-layer plate with two face sheets and the core, presents advantages such as lightweight, low maintenance, insulation as well as load bearing capabilities, and low life-cycle cost. In this work, a TISSC is proposed to replace SARA’s current TPS. The main contribution of the presented methodology is to couple the aerodynamic heating, heat transfer in porous insulation and thermo-structural analyses of the proposed configuration in order to evaluate the TISSC TPS performance. The results are compared with those obtained for the current SARA TPS design, showing improvements in thermal insulation and structural strength, as well as a remarkable mass reduction.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0. Authors are free to Share (copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format) and Adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially). JATM allow the authors to retain publishing rights without restrictions.