3Aerodynamic Performance Analysis of Three Different Unmanned Re‐entry Vehicles

Giuseppe Pezzella1 and Antonio Viviani2

1 Italian Aerospace Research Centre, Capua, Italy

2 University of Campania 'Luigi Vanvitelli', Aversa, Italy

3.1 Introduction

This chapter deals with the aerodynamic performance analysis of three reusable and unmanned aerial vehicles conceived as flying laboratories to perform experimental flights in low Earth orbit (LEO). Each vehicle concept is an orbital re‐entry vehicle (ORV), with re‐entry energy of the order of 25 MJ/kg. They are flying test beds (FTBs) that will re‐enter the Earth’s atmosphere, thus allowing tests of critical re‐entry technologies to be performed. The primary objective is to test in real flight conditions various thermal protection systems (TPSs) and hot structures that are potential candidates for next‐generation re‐entry vehicles. The secondary objective is to provide system‐design tests of such re‐entry vehicles, to address controlled gliding re‐entry and to validate know‐how related to in‐flight measurement techniques.

Besides these objectives, they will also gather the aerothermal data needed to improve wind tunnel test facilities (including plasma wind tunnel facilities) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) predictions and transpose them to flight. In particular, the vehicle will provide aerodynamic and aerothermodynamic flight data to correlate with ground testing results, such the ‘Scirocco’ plasma wind tunnel at CIRA1), thus ...

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