Numerical modeling of on-orbit propellant motion resulting from an impulsive acceleration


In-space docking and separation maneuvers of spacecraft that have large fluid mass fractions may cause undesirable spacecraft motion in response to the impulsive-acceleration-induced fluid motion. An example of this potential low-gravity fluid management problem arose during the development of the shuttle/Centaur vehicle. Experimentally verified numerical modeling techniques were developed to establish the propellant dynamics, and subsequent vehicle motion, associated with the separation of the Centaur vehicle from the shuttle orbiter cargo bay. Although the shuttle/Centaur development activity has been suspended, the numerical modeling techniques are available to predict on-orbit liquid motion resulting from impulsive accelerations for other missions and spacecraft.

Publication Title

AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE 23rd Joint Propulsion Conference, 1987

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