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A Collaborative Analysis Tool for Integrating Hypersonic Aerodynamics, Thermal Protection Systems, and RBCC Engine Performance for Single Stage to Orbit VehiclesPresented is a computer-based tool that connects several disciplines that are needed in the complex and integrated design of high performance reusable single stage to orbit (SSTO) vehicles. Every system is linked to every other system, as is the case of SSTO vehicles with air breathing propulsion, which is currently being studied by NASA. The deficiencies in the scramjet powered concept led to a revival of interest in Rocket-Based Combined-Cycle (RBCC) propulsion systems. An RBCC propulsion system integrates airbreathing and rocket propulsion into a single engine assembly enclosed within a cowl or duct. A typical RBCC propulsion system operates as a ducted rocket up to approximately Mach 3. At this point the transitions to a ramjet mode for supersonic-to-hypersonic acceleration. Around Mach 8 the engine transitions to a scram4jet mode. During the ramjet and scramjet modes, the integral rockets operate as fuel injectors. Around Mach 10-12 (the actual value depends on vehicle and mission requirements), the inlet is physically closed and the engine transitions to an integral rocket mode for orbit insertion. A common feature of RBCC propelled vehicles is the high degree of integration between the propulsion system and airframe. At high speeds the vehicle forebody is fundamentally part of the engine inlet, providing a compression surface for air flowing into the engine. The compressed air is mixed with fuel and burned. The combusted mixture must be expanded to an area larger than the incoming stream to provide thrust. Since a conventional nozzle would be too large, the entire lower after body of the vehicle is used as an expansion surface. Because of the high external temperatures seen during atmospheric flight, the design of an airbreathing SSTO vehicle requires delicate tradeoffs between engine design, vehicle shape, and thermal protection system (TPS) sizing in order to produce an optimum system in terms of weight (and cost) and maximum performance.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Stanley, Thomas Troy (International Space Systems, Inc. Huntsville, AL United States)
Alexander, Reginald (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Meeting Information
Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies(Norfolk, VA)
Distribution Limits