Jet Plume’s Effect on Space Vehicle Aerodynamics


Space Access Vehicles typically incorporate several rocket nozzles that directly impact the aerodynamics of the vehicle with or without the rocket engine firing. How these jet plumes affect the aerodynamics over a model are very important to aerodynamicists.

Calspan’s experience in Jet Effects Assessment for space vehicles includes performing ground effect studies as well as stage separation investigations. These test techniques require Calspan to provide our customers with dry, metered, high pressure air to their jets. Calspan also provides a supplemental air delivery system when secondary or tertiary flow is required.

Twt Space Jet

Calspan tailors each jet plumes test project to meet the customer’s particular goals and test objectives. The following are typical goals of testing:

  • Lift-off and Touchdown performance with gimbaled nozzles or associated control thrusters
  • Ground effect studies including testing nozzle failures
  • Stage separation and associated loads on the vehicles in proximity
  • Examine the effects of various nozzle mass flows on the stability and control of the vehicle

Calspan has performed space vehicle jet effects tests on our Sting Cart as well as our Captive Trajectory Cart, depending on the requirements. For testing the vehicle as a complete assembly, the Sting cart would be used to minimize blockage and allow for easy installation of a ground plane; whereas stage separation testing will typically be configured to have the vehicle components mounted on two separate support systems to allow independent motion for each vehicle component, such as the capsule and lift vehicle.