Visual Experimental and Numerical Investigations Around the VLM-1 Microsatellite Launch Vehicle at Transonic Regime


  • Henrique Oliveira da Mata Centro de Lançamento de Alcantara (CLA)
  • João Batista Pessoa Falcão Filho
  • Ana Cristina Avelar Instituto de Aeronáutica e Espaço
  • Leonardo Motta Maia de Oliveira Carvalho
  • João Luiz F. Azevedo


Sounding rocket, Transonic Wind Tunnel, Experimental results, Schlieren images, CFD.


It is performed and presented an experimental and numerical investigation over the flow patterns around the forebody section of a microsatellite launch vehicle in development at Instituto de Aeronáutica e Espaço. The experimental investigation with a VLM-1 model in 1:50 scale is carried out at the Brazilian Pilot Transonic Wind Tunnel, located in the Aerodynamics Division of the mentioned Institute, using the classical schlieren flow visualization technique. Schlieren images are obtained for nominal Mach number varying from 0.9 to 1.01. Numerical simulation using Stanford’s SU2 code is conducted together with the experimental investigation in order to improve the understanding of the complex physical phenomena associated with the experimental results of this particular regime. The combination of the 2 techniques allowed the assessment of some important aspects on the flow field around the vehicle in the conditions considered in this study, such as shock wave/boundary-layer interaction. The numerical simulation is also very important, allowing the quantification of some important parameters and confirming the shock wave formation patterns observed in the simulation when compared with the schlieren images. A good agreement regarding the position of the shock wave, when compared with the schlieren images, with a maximum error of about 6%, is observed over the VLM model.






Original Papers