Aerodynamic heating of aerospace vehicles such as aircraft and spacecraft occurs when air passes over a vehicle during transit, ascent, descent, and re-entry, and is a function of re-entry angle, speed, air density, thermal protection system material, and vehicle configuration. The degree of aerodynamic heating experienced by an aerospace vehicle may affect various characteristics of the vehicle. It is advantageous to have a method and apparatus that takes these issues into account.

A C-language computer program was developed that takes the average of a mass of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) data on a planar surface into nodal averages for input into simpler thermal models. Aerodynamic analysis of a surface includes receiving surface condition information from a surface condition detector. Data for a number of points in an area is identified into the program. The data is generated from the simulation of fluid flow over the surface that corresponds to the area for expected environmental conditions. The program determines an average of the data for the number of points. Whether the surface is flightworthy may be assessed using the surface condition information and the average of data.

This work was done by David Norman Jr. of The Boeing Company for Johnson Space Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. MSC-25008-1


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2017 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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