A Six Degrees-of-Freedom Flight Dynamics Simulation Tool of Launch Cars


The use of digital simulation has actually ended up being an important activity throughout the development and operation of launch cars, due to the intricacy of such systems. Of particular interest is the flight dynamics simulation, which investigates the behavior of the lorry in flight subjected to forces and minutes. This work provides a simulation tool fit to perform six degrees-of-freedom flight dynamics examinations of launch automobiles. Established at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) and the Instituto de Aeronáutica e Espaço (IAE) in Brazil, the tool was implemented following the requirement for versatility, so that it can be used to mimic different kinds of launch lorries. The assessment of the automobile performance and the automobile payload capability are some examples of analysis that can be performed with the tool. A modular shows method was utilized to ensure the tool flexibility. For that reason, the designs provided in the tool were carried out as separate modules. The combination of these models can originate flight designs of different launch automobiles. Two flight scenarios of Brazilian rockets were simulated and the outcomes were validated versus simulation tools currently utilized by aerospace neighborhood. The developed tool revealed good agreement with respect to the simulators utilized to perform the comparison.

KEYWORDS: Simulation; Flight dynamics; Trajectory; Introduce lorries; Rockets


With the ever-increasing power of computers, digital simulation has ended up being a vital tool in today’s engineering advancement. Making use of digital simulation permits the decrease of both risks and costs associated with a project, in addition to the evaluation of various setups of the product in a relative easy way (Steele et al., 2002). When the simulation tool is validated, a number of activities can be carried out, such as: meaning of efficiency requirements; evaluation of various configurations; test assistance; reduction of testing expenses; examination of inaccessible environments and analysis of subsystems interactions (Zipfel, 2007).

A very crucial subject associated with launch automobiles and normally attended to with digital simulation is the so-called flight dynamics, which studies the motion of the vehicle in space. Flight characteristics examinations are present throughout all the life cycle of a launch automobile, helping actions from the vehicle style until the analysis of real flight information (Sarma et al., 1978).

The simulation tool utilized to carry out flight characteristics analysis must have the ability to anticipate the way the automobile relocates area as a function of the forces and moments acting on it. This objective is attained with making use of an appropriate vibrant model (a set of equations of movement efficient in evaluating the car’s position and velocity) and ideal methods to predict the efforts acting upon the automobile throughout the flight. The dynamic design is generally explained by a set of differential formulas and, due to their complexity, these equations are generally fixed numerically.

The flight characteristics examinations may have various levels of sophistication, depending on the automobile’s characteristics that are considered when deriving the dynamic model and the quantity of info offered about the car’s style and residential or commercial properties, like mass, inertia, drag coefficients and so on. As an example, the lorry can be thought about a point mass, where only the translational dynamics is consisted of; a stiff body, where the relative motion of its parts are overlooked; a body with a rigid structure and variable mass; and a body with versatile structure and variable mass.

Another aspect that influences the option of the design is connected to the kind of analysis it is fit for. Normally, the flight characteristics examinations can be divided into two associated major groups (Greensite, 1967; Sarma et al., 1978). The long-period characteristics is interested in factors such as car’s capability to achieve a particular mission, payload capability and trajectory dispersions. In this case, effects of non-spherical rotating Earth and variable mass of lorry must be consisted of. The short-period characteristics, in turn, is worried about phenomena with fairly little incident interval, like the separation process in between stages or the lorry’s oscillation about the center of gravity thinking about fuel sloshing and flexing.

The advancement of a computational tool for flight characteristics simulation normally requires a significant amount of time. In order to reduce time and cost associated with this activity, it has ended up being a typical practice to execute generic and flexible simulators, which could be used throughout the style and operation of various launch cars (Ippolito and Pritchett, 2000; Steele et al., 2002).

There are numerous examples of launch lorry simulators established in space agencies, like NASA and ESA, and also in companies around the world. The Marshall Aerospace Vehicle Representation in C II (MAVERIC II), likewise established by NASA, is a modularized high-fidelity simulation software and appears in the work of Lu and Rao (2004 ). As an example of a business simulation tool, the business Astos Solutions has actually been establishing the AeroSpace Trajectory Optimization Software (ASTOS ®), a modularized software application capable of carrying out trajectory simulation and optimization of launch vehicles (Cremaschi et al., 2010).

This work presents a launch lorry simulation tool developed at INPE and IAE, two active space research institutes in Brazil. The tool was established in order to boost Brazilian ability and autonomy in launch cars simulation. The requirement for developing a flexible tool efficient in imitating different automobiles and various objectives was embraced. The tool is referred to as Rocket Trajectory Simulator (RTS). The outcomes gotten with RTS were verified against other simulation tools currently utilized by aerospace neighborhood.


It simulates the launch automobile flight in 6 degrees-of-freedom, from launch to reentry or orbit insertion. Several phenomena that affect the automobile’s long-period dynamics can be considered in the simulation, such as the variation of mass and inertia, the aerodynamic and propulsive efforts that act on the vehicle, the control systems characteristics, the Earth’s geometry and rotational motion, the presence of wind and so on

. The meaning of the phases is approximate, and phase altering is usually related to some abrupt modification in automobile residential or commercial properties, such as a modification in car mass due to rejecting of part of its structure, or a change in propulsion thrust due to the ignition of a motor, as well as some change in environment, for example, during the car exiting from the atmosphere.

RTS was executed to be a generic and versatile flight simulation tool, allowing the simulation of various types of launch vehicles. This flexibility is ensured by a modular shows strategy, where each design is carried out as a separate module. The choice of different models can come from flight models for different launch lorries.

Generally, RTS comprises a library of designs, with all the available models that can be utilized to make up the car flight design to be simulated and the main module, responsible for carrying out the trajectory integration. Figure 1 reveals these components. A graphical user interface was also carried out to permit the development of the whole vehicle flight design in an easy method.