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Aerospace 2016, 3(2), 10; doi:10.3390/aerospace3020010

Vertical Wind Tunnel for Prediction of Rocket Flight Dynamics

1
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
2
Rocket Lab Ltd., 3A Airpark Drive, Auckland 2022, New Zealand
3
School of Engineering and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), University of Tasmania, Private Bag 65, Hobart 7001, Australia
4
Engineering and Architecture Department, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), P.O. Box 540, Christchurch Mail Centre, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
5
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Raffaello Mariani
Received: 1 February 2016 / Revised: 3 March 2016 / Accepted: 22 March 2016 / Published: 29 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in Wind Tunnel Testing)

Abstract

A customized vertical wind tunnel has been built by the University of Canterbury Rocketry group (UC Rocketry). This wind tunnel has been critical for the success of UC Rocketry as it allows the optimization of avionics and control systems before flight. This paper outlines the construction of the wind tunnel and includes an analysis of flow quality including swirl. A minimal modelling methodology for roll dynamics is developed that can extrapolate wind tunnel behavior at low wind speeds to much higher velocities encountered during flight. The models were shown to capture the roll flight dynamics in two rocket launches with mean roll angle errors varying from 0.26° to 1.5° across the flight data. The identified model parameters showed consistent and predictable variations over both wind tunnel tests and flight, including canard–fin interaction behavior. These results demonstrate that the vertical wind tunnel is an important tool for the modelling and control of sounding rockets. View Full-Text
Keywords: rocketry; canard actuation; vertical wind tunnel; flow quality; minimal modelling; roll dynamics; PD control; minimal modelling rocketry; canard actuation; vertical wind tunnel; flow quality; minimal modelling; roll dynamics; PD control; minimal modelling
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Bryson, H.; Sültrop, H.P.; Buchanan, G.; Hann, C.; Snowdon, M.; Rao, A.; Slee, A.; Fanning, K.; Wright, D.; McVicar, J.; Clark, B.; Harris, G.; Chen, X.Q. Vertical Wind Tunnel for Prediction of Rocket Flight Dynamics. Aerospace 2016, 3, 10.

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