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Full-scale simulation and analysis of formation flight during in-air-capturing of a winged reusable launch vehicle

Singh, Sunayna and Stappert, Sven and Bussler, Leonid and Sippel, Martin and Kucukosman, Yakut Cansev and Buckingham, Sophia (2022) Full-scale simulation and analysis of formation flight during in-air-capturing of a winged reusable launch vehicle. Journal of Space Safety Engineering, 9 (4), pp. 541-552. Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/j.jsse.2022.09.005. ISSN 2468-8967.

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Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2468896722001100?via%3Dihub


In the past two decades, the renewed interest in sustainable space transportation has driven the development of many innovative reusable launch technologies. One such concept called ‘In-Air-Capturing (IAC)’ involves winged rocket stages captured mid-air and towed back to the launch site using an aircraft. The approach, patented by German Aerospace Center (DLR), shows potential for substantial mass and cost reduction by eliminating the need for additional propulsion during the descent. A critical aspect of IAC requires the two involved vehicles to be in a parallel formation with similar velocities, altitudes and flight path angles separated by a safe distance. The preliminary requirement is to maintain the formation for a minimum of 60 s, despite any external disturbances. This paper presents the modelling and simulation of a full-scale reusable launch vehicle and a towing aircraft attempting the formation flight for IAC. First, a suitable aircraft configuration is selected based on the aerodynamic performance of the selected test rocket stage. Important subsystems are also identified and modelled comprehensively. Then, trajectory simulations are performed to identify the best approach and conditions for the formation. The sensitivity of the formation flight to critical factors like the idle thrust and wake turbulence from the towing aircraft are also analysed. The simulation showed that the minimum duration of formation flight could be maintained in the presence of external disturbances. Lastly, potential improvements and future simulations are discussed

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/191095/
Document Type:Article
Title:Full-scale simulation and analysis of formation flight during in-air-capturing of a winged reusable launch vehicle
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Singh, SunaynaUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-9185-0267UNSPECIFIED
Stappert, SvenUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-8425-2779UNSPECIFIED
Bussler, LeonidUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-0657-4086UNSPECIFIED
Sippel, MartinUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-7356-7575UNSPECIFIED
Kucukosman, Yakut Cansevvon Karman Institute for Fluid DynamicsUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Buckingham, Sophiavon Karman Institute for Fluid DynamicsUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date:September 2022
Journal or Publication Title:Journal of Space Safety Engineering
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Page Range:pp. 541-552
Keywords:FALCon, In-Air-Capturing, Reusable Launch Systems, Vertical Take-Off Horizontal Landing, Formation Flight, Sustainable Space.
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Transportation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R RP - Space Transportation
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Systems Analysis Space Transport (SART)
Location: Bremen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Space Systems > Space Launcher Systems Analysis
Deposited By: Singh, Sunayna
Deposited On:29 Nov 2022 08:59
Last Modified:01 Jul 2023 03:00

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