Aerodynamic instability of an inflatable aeroshell in suborbital re-entry

Yusuke Takahashi, Tatsushi Ohashi, Nobuyuki Oshima, Yasunori Nagata, Kazuhiko Yamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Aerodynamic instability in the attitude of an inflatable re-entry vehicle in the subsonic regime has been observed during suborbital re-entry. This causes significant problems for aerodynamic decelerators using an inflatable aeroshell; thus, mitigating this problem is necessary. In this study, we revealed the instability mechanism using a computational science approach. To reproduce the in-flight oscillation motion in an unsteady turbulent flow field, we adopted a large-eddy simulation approach with a forced-oscillation technique. Computations were performed for two representative cases at transonic and subsonic speeds that were in stable and unstable states, respectively. Pitching moment hysteresis at a cycle in the motion was confirmed for the subsonic case, whereas such hysteresis did not appear for the transonic case. Pressures on the front surface and in the wake of the vehicle were obtained by employing a probe technique in the computations. Pressure phase delays at the surface and in the wake were confirmed as the pitch angle of the vehicle increased (pitch up) and decreased (pitch down), respectively. In particular, we observed that the wake structure formed by a large recirculation behavior significantly affected the pressure phase delay at the rear of the vehicle. The dynamic instability at subsonic speed resulted from flows that could not promptly follow the vehicle motion. Finally, the damping coefficients were evaluated for the design and development of the inflatable vehicle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number075114
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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