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Type: Thesis
Title: Trajectory design, optimisation and guidance for reusable launch vehicles during the terminal area flight phase.
Author: Chartres, James T. A.
Issue Date: 2007
School/Discipline: School of Mechanical Engineering
Abstract: The next generation of reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) require significant improvements in guidance methods in order to reduce cost, increase safety and flexibility, whilst allowing for possible autonomous operation. Research has focused on the ascent and hypersonic re-entry flight phases. This thesis presents a new method for trajectory design, optimisation and guidance of RLVs during the terminal area flight phases. The terminal area flight phase is the transitional phase from hypersonic re-entry to the approach and landing phase. The trajectory design, optimisation and guidance methods within this thesis are an evolution of previous work conducted on the ascent and re-entry flight phases of RLVs. The methods are modified to incorporate the terminal area flight phase through the adaption of the problem definition and the inclusion of the speed brake setting as a steering parameter. The methods discussed and developed in this thesis are different to previous methods for the terminal area flight phase as they encompass optimisation, trajectory design and guidance based on the definition of the steering parameters. The NLPQL nonlinear optimiser contained within the International Mathematics Standards Library (IMSL) is utilised for trajectory design and optimisation. Real-time vehicle guidance is achieved using the restoration steps of an accelerated Gradient Projection Algorithm (GPA). The methods used are evaluated in a three degrees of freedom (3DOF) simulation environment. To properly evaluate the programs and gain a better understanding of the terminal area flight phase, two different vehicles are utilised within this study. These vehicles are the German sub-orbital Hopper concept vehicle, a previously proposed replacement for the Ariane series of launch vehicles and the recently cancelled joint National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Lockheed Martin sub-orbital test bed vehicle, X-33. The two vehicles each have a terminal area flight phase, but their mission profiles and vehicle characteristics are significantly different. The Hopper vehicle is a winged re-entry vehicle, whereas the X-33 vehicle is a lifting body. The trajectory design method takes into account the initial and final conditions, in-flight restrictions such as dynamic pressure and vehicle loads as well as safety margins. The designed trajectories are evaluated to analyse the terminal area flight phase and to assist in the development of the guidance program. The guidance method is evaluated utilising an program consisting of two parts, a real world simulator with high order models and a representation of the on-board guidance computer, the predictor, which uses low order models for computational efficiency. The guidance method is evaluated against a variety of off-nominal conditions to account for dispersions within the high order real world models and common errors experienced by re-entry vehicles. These off-nominal conditions include atmospheric disturbances, winds, aerodynamic, mass, navigation, steering and initial condition errors. The results of this study include a detailed analysis of the terminal area flight phase highlighting the major influences for vehicle and trajectory design. The study also confirms the applicability of the non-linear programming method utilising the vehicle steering parameters as a viable option for trajectory design and guidance. A comparison to other available results highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed method.
Advisor: Schneider, G. M.
Gräßlin, Michael
Tetlow, Matthew Robert
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Mechanical Engineering, 2007.
Keywords: TAEM; guidance; reusable launch vehicles; RLV; trajectory; Hopper; X-33; optimisation
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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