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Simulation of the Landing of a Re-Entry Vehicle
Simulation of the Landing of a Re-Entry Vehicle


A flight simulator that reproduces the landing of an unpowered winged vehicle in realtime, was developed on EuroSim. The simulation can be run in either an automatic mode in which the performance of various landing strategies can be assessed, or in a semi-automatic mode in which a pilot can land the plane manually and the man-machine interface can be tested.


This application in the area of landing technology has been jointly developed by ESTEC and the Japanese Space Agency, NASDA.

Simulation of the Landing of a Re-Entry Vehicle This simulator reproduces in real time the flight phase of an unpowered winged vehicle as it re-enters the atmosphere and lands, and more specifically the terminal phase from an altitude of 24 kilometres and a Mach of 2.5 until the vehicle's touch down on the runway. The work was undertaken in cooperation with Tatsushi Izumi of NASDA's Tsukuba Space Center during his one-year stay at ESTEC.

A research entry vehicle, which had been developed in previous ESA Technological Research Programme studies, was used in the simulation. All the flight phases of a landing approach were replicated: the supersonic glide, the energy-management turn, and the final phase with steep slope, pre-flare and final flare. A guidance strategy was implemented and its performance was evaluated with respect to typical perturbations: atmospheric changes, winds, aerodynamic uncertainties, and navigation errors. A man-machine interface was also developed to allow the manual control system used in the landing of the spaceplane to be studied.

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