Modeling and simulation experts in the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center are performing cutting edge simulations that supply key aerodynamic data needed for the design of NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS).Space Launch System Vehicle modeling in the NASA Ames Supercomputer
NASA’s Space Launch System is an advanced, heavy-lift launch vehicle that will provide an entirely new capability for science and human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. The SLS will carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments, to deep space. (From the SLS Fact Sheet)
Modeling and simulation experts in the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center perform high-fidelity simulations that supply key aerodynamic data needed for the design of NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS). These cutting-edge simulations, run on NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer, are crucial to streamlining the speed and cost of the SLS design process, while ensuring the highest possible performance and safety standards.
Using custom-developed codes, NAS experts model evolving SLS vehicle designs and compute the detailed aerodynamic flows, forces, and interactions that could affect mission success and safety during launch. Results from their analyses enable designers and engineers to optimize the vehicle’s shape and trajectory for better performance, and to assess the amount of structural stress, heating, and vibrations the vehicle will encounter during ascent.Space Launch System Vehicle modeling in the NASA Ames Supercomputer
CFD simulations contributed to early SLS design decisions that allowed engineers to compare alternate architectures before experimental or flight data could be obtained. Now, the team’s CFD analyses provide an important stepping-stone for initial SLS design analysis cycles. For each cycle, these simulations quickly provide the aerodynamic data needed for trajectory adjustments, structural analyses, and other important studies. As the design matures, increasingly high-fidelity simulations will be used to assess both detailed design features and complex aerodynamic phenomena.
CFD results supplement limited wind tunnel data and allow more conditions and designs to be assessed at a fraction of the cost and time that would be required to obtain data through testing alone. The fast turnaround of CFD data—which is often generated within a few days, thanks to NASA supercomputers and modeling expertise—greatly expedites the design cycle process and will be pivotal to meeting the agency’s ambitious goal of launching the first SLS flight around the end of 2017.