Reentry heat transfer analysis of the space shuttle orbiter


A structural performance and resizing finite element thermal analysis computer program was used in the reentry heat transfer analysis of the space shuttle. Two typical wing cross sections and a midfuselage cross section were selected for the analysis. The surface heat inputs to the thermal models were obtained from aerodynamic heating analyses, which assumed a purely turbulent boundary layer, a purely laminar boundary layer, separated flow, and transition from laminar to turbulent flow. The effect of internal radiation was found to be quite significant. With the effect of the internal radiation considered, the wing lower skin temperature became about 39 C (70 F) lower. The results were compared with fight data for space transportation system, trajectory 1. The calculated and measured temperatures compared well for the wing if laminar flow was assumed for the lower surface and bay one upper surface and if separated flow was assumed for the upper surfaces of bays other than bay one. For the fuselage, good agreement between the calculated and measured data was obtained if laminar flow was assumed for the bottom surface. The structural temperatures were found to reach their peak values shortly before touchdown. In addition, the finite element solutions were compared with those obtained from the conventional finite difference solutions

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