by Stephen Miller, Sierra Nevada Corporation
The Dream Chaser spacecraft is a reusable, lifting-body vehicle capable of traveling to low Earth orbit and landing on a runway, currently in development by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems of Colorado. The engineers at SNC use Thermal Desktop to perform system-level and detailed thermal analysis of the Dream Chaser spacecraft, making use of the following advanced features:
- The Boundary Condition Mapper is used to map transient reentry heat loads and pressures generated using external computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to the vehicle model.
- User-controllable logic (controlled by the Case Set Manager) is used to model non-linear events such as switching on/off avionics boxes and to simplify changing between hot and cold environments.
- Liquid and gaseous flow loops are simulated using simple one-way thermal networks and FloCAD.
- Tag Sets are used to simplify connecting assembly-level meshes in the system-level model.
- The model uses a wide range of thermophysical (anisotropic, temperature- and pressure-dependent) and optical properties.
- The vehicle’s solar arrays track the sun using Articulators
- The Stack Manger is used to easily generate aggregate properties for thermal protection system (TPS) multi-material insulation.