The conceptual aircraft designer is faced with a dilemma on how to strike the best balance between productivity and fidelity. Attempts have been made to use computer-aided design packages to fill this void, but their cost and steep learning curve have made them unwieldy at best. Open Vehicle Sketch Pad (OpenVSP.org ) has been developed over several years to better fill this void. While no substitute for the full feature set of computer-aided design packages, Open VSP allows even novices to quickly become proficient in defining three-dimensional, watertight aircraft geometries that are adequate for producing multi-disciplinary metamodels for higher order analysis methods, wind tunnel and display models, as well as a starting point for animation models.

OpenVSP is an improved opensource implementation of a parameterized GUI geometry modeler that leveraged the experience of developing VSP. The geometry components and their parameterizations have been significantly upgraded along with much more sophisticated export and meta-model creation capability. OpenVSP has many of the same characteristics in that it builds an XML text file that is filled out through a series of forms presented graphically to the user, and the geometry is displayed in real time in a 3D display window.

OpenVSP is designed to work best in the conceptual design phase. Ease-of-use and productivity were emphasized over the ability to produce completely arbitrary geometries with very high precision. Over time, the ability to export geometry to other geometry modelers and analysis programs has increased, making defining a geometry in OpenVSP much more useful for design, analysis, and communication.

This work was done by Mark Moore, Andrew Hahn, and William Fredericks of Langley Research Center; David Kinney of Ames Research Center; Robert McDonald of California Polytechnic State University; and James Gloudemans of FlySim. For more information on this technology, contact Langley Research Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to LAR-18450-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the January, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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