Rapid Prototyping for Aerospace Launch Vehicles

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Prasad, K. Siva
Rathakrishnan, E.
Dhande, Sanjay G.

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Initial studies of the aerodynamic characteristics of proposed launch vehicles can be made more accurately if lower cost, high-fidelity aerodynamic models are available for wind tunnel testing early in design phase. Rapid Prototyping (RP) is an emerging key technology for producing accurate parts directly from CAD models quickly, with little need of human intervention. Use of RP models was studied at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). It was concluded that RP methods and materials can be used only for preliminary design studies and limited configurations because of the RP material properties that allow bending of models under higher loading conditions. The reported results and analysis were based on wind tunnel balances. These balances give total load on the body. Thus, there is a need for studying the pressure distribution, the wave pattern and the system behavior under high-speed conditions. In order to study the above goals, a blunt nose cone of a launch vehicle/ missile was tested which was made using the solid based RP method FDM, with a Mach number of 2.0. It is concluded that RP models can take the load at the Mach number 2.0 and also can capture the pressure distribution and wave pattern.



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