Aerodynamic and performance characterization of supersonic retropropulsion for application to planetary entry and descent
Korzun, Ashley Marie
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Supersonic deceleration has been identified as a critical deficiency in extending heritage technologies to the high-mass systems required to achieve long-term exploration goals at Mars. Supersonic retropropulsion (SRP), or the use of retropropulsive thrust while an entry vehicle is traveling at supersonic conditions, is an approach addressing this deficiency. The focus of this dissertation is aerodynamic and performance evaluation of SRP as a decelerator technology for high-mass Mars entry systems. This evaluation was completed through a detailed SRP performance analysis, establishment of the relationship between vehicle performance and the aerodynamic-propulsive interaction, and an assessment of the required fidelity and computational cost in simulating SRP flowfields, with emphasis on the effort required in conceptual design. Trajectory optimization, high-fidelity computational aerodynamic analysis, and analytical modeling of the SRP aerodynamic-propulsive interaction were used to define the fidelity and effort required to evaluate individual SRP concepts across multiple mission scales.