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Grid Fin Stabilization of the Orion Launch Abort VehicleWind tunnel tests were conducted by Nielsen Engineering & Research (NEAR) and Rose Engineering & Research (REAR) in conjunction with the NASA Engineering & Safety Center (NESC) on a 6%-scale model of the Orion launch abort vehicle (LAV) configured with four grid fins mounted near the base of the vehicle. The objectives of these tests were to 1) quantify LAV stability augmentation provided by the grid fins from subsonic through supersonic Mach numbers, 2) assess the benefits of swept grid fins versus unswept grid fins on the LAV, 3) determine the effects of the LAV abort motors on grid fin aerodynamics, and 4) generate an aerodynamic database for use in the future application of grid fins to small length-to-diameter ratio vehicles similar to the LAV. The tests were conducted in NASA Ames Research Center's 11x11-foot transonic wind tunnel from Mach 0.5 through Mach 1.3 and in their 9x7-foot supersonic wind tunnel from Mach 1.6 through Mach 2.5. Force- and moment-coefficient data were collected for the complete vehicle and for each individual grid fin as a function of angle of attack and sideslip angle. Tests were conducted with both swept and unswept grid fins with the simulated abort motors (cold jets) off and on. The swept grid fins were designed with a 22.5deg aft sweep angle for both the frame and the internal lattice so that the frontal projection of the swept fins was the same as for the unswept fins. Data from these tests indicate that both unswept and swept grid fins provide significant improvements in pitch stability as compared to the baseline vehicle over the Mach number range investigated. The swept fins typically provide improved stability as compared to the unswept fins, but the performance gap diminished as Mach number was increased. The aerodynamic performance of the fins was not observed to degrade when the abort motors were turned on. Results from these tests indicate that grid fins can be a robust solution for stabilizing the Orion LAV over a wide range of operating conditions.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Langley Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Pruzan, Daniel A.
(Nielsen Engineering and Research, Inc. Santa Clara, CA, United States)
Mendenhall, Michael R.
(Nielsen Engineering and Research, Inc. Santa Clara, CA, United States)
Rose, William C.
(Rose Engineering and Research, Inc. Incline Village, NV, United States)
Schuster, David M.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
June 27, 2011
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: 29th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference
Location: Honolulu, HI
Country: United States
Start Date: June 27, 2011
End Date: June 30, 2011
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 869021.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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