A new tool calculates vehicle aerodynamic flight parameters from observed flight trajectory. These flight-observed parameters are then compared to the expected aerodynamic parameters for a nominal vehicle flying the same trajectory. The differences in the observed versus expected aerodynamic parameters are assumed to be caused by deviation in vehicle aerodynamics, the deviations caused by vehicle shape changes [damage], and/or boundary layer transition.

The tool (a) converts observed flight trajectory parameters into aerodynamics parameters; (b) for the observed flight trajectory parameters, calculates the expected aerodynamics parameters per vehicle aerodynamics database; and (c) calculates the differences between flight-observed and expected parameters.

The tool was designed to use the Space Shuttle aerodynamics database and flight data commonly available to the Shuttle Aero community. The NASA tool was designed to use X-38 aerodynamics database and X-38 flight data.

This work was done by Georgi Ushev of The Boeing Company for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-24861-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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