Stage Separation & Proximity Assessment Testing
SPACE ACCESS VEHICLES
UNDERSTANDING VERTICAL SEPARATION
Stage Separation is typically evaluated in three phases: pre-separation, interference or close proximity, and post-separation. This test technique is utilized for understanding vertical separation, such as multi-stage rockets, as well as lateral separation similar to booster rockets separating from the space shuttle main engine.
We have utilized our Captive Trajectory System to perform these tests. Areas of study include:
- Proximity testing between stages.
- Loads experienced by reusable launch vehicles from separation to freestream.
- Re-contact of stages due to turbulent wakes during separation.
- Ascent abort evaluation for safety-of-flight evaluation.
- Capsule wake surveys for chute performance.
Utilizing Calspan’s Captive Trajectory Cart, stage separation testing is typically 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. Data can be acquired by moving one, or both, of the vehicle components in prescribed motions to build a database of interaction aerodynamic loads. Calspan can perform this testing with cold jet flow as well as with no jet flow.