A document describes a design optimization method for determining optimal shapes for vehicles with mid-range lift-to-drag ratios that are entering or re-entering planetary atmospheres. The design space includes consideration of hypersonic aerothermodynamic properties (for minimizing heating) and hypersonic aerodynamic properties (for maximizing maneuverability and stability). It allows for flexible trajectory design. The method allows geometry and analysis grids (meshes) to be rapidly created from a limited set of parameters, which once defined, can be interpreted in a straightforward and intuitive manner.

The vehicle shapes are known as Co-Optimized Blunt Re-Entry Aero (COBRA) geometries. A key advantage for design work is that this approach uses a parameterization that defines the vehicle shape and is thus suitable for automated optimization methods. Parametric shape representation permits rapid remeshing for iterative shape representation. The software approach is suitable for automated optimization routines.

This work was done by James L. Brown, Joseph A. Garcia, David J. Kinney, Jeffrey V. Bowles, and Nagi N. Mansour of Ames Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to the Ames Technology Partnerships Office at 1-855-627-2249 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to ARC-16348-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2014 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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