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Supersonic Retro Propulsion Flight Vehicle Engineering of a Human Mission to Mars
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

A manned Mars mission will require a substantial increase in landed mass compared to previous robotic missions, beyond the capabilities of current Entry Descent and Landing, EDL, technologies, such as blunt-body aeroshells and supersonic disk-gap-band parachutes. The heaviest payload successfully landed on Mars to date is the Mars Science Laboratory which delivered the Curiosity rover with an approximate mass of 900 kg. For a human mission, a payload of magnitude 30-50 times heavier will need to reach the surface in a secure manner. According to the Global Exploration Roadmap, GER, a Human Mission to Mars, HMM, is planned to take place after year 2030. To prepare for such an event several technologies need maturing and development, one of them is to be able to use and accurately asses the performance of Supersonic Retro Propulsion, SRP, another is to be able to use inflatable heat shields.

This internal study conducted at the European Space Agency, ESA, is a first investigation focusing on the Entry Descent and Landing, EDL, sequence of a manned Mars lander utilising an inflatable heatshield and SRP, which are both potential technologies for enabling future landings of heavy payloads on the planet. The thesis covers the areas of aerodynamics and propulsion coupled together to achieve a design, which considers the flight envelope constraints imposed on human missions. The descent has five different phases and they are defined as circular orbit, hypersonic entry, supersonic retropropulsion, vertical turn manoeuvre and soft landing. The focus of this thesis is on one of the phases, the SRP phase.

The study is carried out with the retro-thrust profile and SRP phase initiation Mach number as parameters. Aerodynamic data in the hyper and supersonic regime are generated using Computational Fluid Dynamics, CFD, to accurately assess the retropropulsive performance. The basic concept and initial sizing of the manned Mars lander builds on a preliminary technical report from ESA, the Mission Scenarios and Vehicle Design Document. The overall optimisation process has three parts and is based on iterations between the vehicle design, CFD computations in the software DLR-Tau and trajectory planning in the software ASTOS. Two of those parts are studied, the vehicle design and the CFD,to optimise and evaluate the feasibility of SRP during the descent and test the design parameters of the vehicle. This approach is novel, the efficiency and accuracy of the method itself is discussed and evaluated. Initially the exterior vehicle Computer Aided Design, CAD, model is created, based on the Mission Scenarios and Vehicle Design Document, however updated and furthered. The propulsion system is modelled and evaluated using EcosimPRO where the nozzle characteristics, pressure levels and chemistry are defined, and later incorporated in the CAD model.

The first iteration of the CFD part has an SRP range between Mach 7 and 2, which results in an evaluation of five points on the trajectory. The thrust levels, the corresponding velocity, altitude and atmospheric properties at those points can then be evaluated and later incorporated in ASTOS. ASTOS, in turn, can simulate the full trajectory from orbit to landing including the CFD data of the SRP phase. Due to time limitation only one iteration of the vehicle design and the SRP range was completed. However, the goals of the study were reached. A first assessment of SRP in Mars atmosphere has been carried out, and the aerodynamic and propulsive data has been collected to be built on in the future. The results indicate that the engines can start at a velocity of Mach 7. They also show consistency with similar studies conducted in Earths atmosphere. The current vehicle design, propulsion system and SRP range can now be furthered, updated and advanced in order to optimise the different descent phases in combination with future results from ASTOS.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 51
Keywords [en]
Supersonic retro propulsion, SRP, Mars, Human mission, Inflatable heat shield
National Category
Aerospace Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-75820OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-75820DiVA, id: diva2:1348101
External cooperation
European Space Agency
Subject / course
Student thesis, at least 30 credits
Educational program
Space Engineering, master's level
Presentation
2019-08-26, A211, Luleå, 13:08 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-09-03 Created: 2019-09-03 Last updated: 2019-09-03Bibliographically approved

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