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Developing an innovative and high‑performance method for recovering reusable launcher stages: the in‑air capturing method

Stappert, Sven and Singh, Sunayna and Sippel, Martin and Funke, Alexander (2023) Developing an innovative and high‑performance method for recovering reusable launcher stages: the in‑air capturing method. CEAS Space Journal. Springer. doi: 10.1007/s12567-023-00512-0. ISSN 1868-2502.

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In this paper, the research within the Horizon 2020-funded project FALCon on the innovative “In-Air Capturing” (IAC) method is presented. This recovery method for reusable rocket stages involves capture of a winged launcher stage with an aircraft in a gliding flight at subsonic velocity. Hence, the IAC procedure involves multiple vehicles interacting in a highly dynamic and complex environment, which requires detailed investigation before being used in a future full-scale setup. First, this paper gives an overview of the implications of using the IAC method on launcher system design. Second, the subscale flight testing with unmanned aerial systems (UASs) is explained. An analysis of all full-scale systems involved is also conducted, including the towing aircraft, an aerodynamically controlled capturing device that is connected via a rope to the aircraft, and the RLV stage. CFD simulations are conducted to understand the implications of the flow field around the vehicles and their impact on the IAC maneuver. Next, some full-scale trajectory simulations for different maneuvers involved in IAC are produced. The trajectory is also evaluated for subscale flight simulations, wherein the data acquired during flight tests is used. Finally, the progress and potential future outlook for this recovery method are described.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/196378/
Document Type:Article
Title:Developing an innovative and high‑performance method for recovering reusable launcher stages: the in‑air capturing method
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Stappert, SvenDLRhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-8425-2779UNSPECIFIED
Singh, SunaynaUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-9185-0267UNSPECIFIED
Sippel, MartinUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-7356-7575UNSPECIFIED
Funke, AlexanderUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-8725-7615140207477
Date:13 July 2023
Journal or Publication Title:CEAS Space Journal
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Keywords:Reusable launchers, In-air capturing, FALCon, Horizon 2020, Flight demonstration
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), R - Reusable Space Systems and Propulsion Technology
Location: Bremen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Space Systems > Space Launcher Systems Analysis
Institute of Flight Systems > Unmanned Aircraft
Deposited By: Vormschlag, Nele Marei
Deposited On:10 Aug 2023 09:15
Last Modified:07 Sep 2023 12:50

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