All moving tail plate interaction on an aerodynamic characteristic of the rocket plane in tailless configuration

Suborbital space tourism flights are one of the most promising branch of aerospace technology. Currently is a big market demand on suborbital vehicles. So far, only flights of the technology demonstrator were performed but there is no operating commercial spacecraft. However a few companies are working on such vehicles. Following concepts are developing: a rocket plane lifted by another aircraft (e.g. Space Ship Two & White Knight Two), a one stage horizontal take-off rocket plane (e.g. Lynx), vertical takeoff and landing system (e.g. Armadillo Aerospace). Also at Warsaw University of Technology is developing a concept of a system to space tourism flights. The main assumption of the project is two tailless vehicles bonded together which form a conventional airplane configuration, where the second vehicle is used as a tail of the whole system. This system is called Modular Aeroplane System – MAS. The MAS’s mission profile assumes that only the rocket plane performed a space flight. The carrier is used to lift the second vehicle above the densest atmospheric region. The rocket plane’s re-entry flight is a glide and the vehicle is not equipped with a thermal shield. Therefore the vehicle needs a system which prevent to an excessive acceleration. So, one of the most interesting features of the rocket plane is a strake. The strake is generating a vortex lift phenomenon which increases aerodynamic forces and in turn will reduce the vehicle sink rate and prevent to the structure overheating. So, the initial reentry speed of the vehicle should be small, therefore the problem of strake’s sharp edge heating should not occur. The second unique feature of the rocket plane concept is the all moving tail plane on the wing tips, where the upper set can be rotated and is used to control of the pitching and yawing channel. So far, a lot of CFD computations and optimization of the strake’s shape were made. Also experiments in a wind tunnel were carried out. After the optimization of the strake geometry the lift forces is increased, but it causes that the pitching moment characteristics is poor. Therefore research on influence of the strake forward flap and hinge strake was carried out and results of this investigation were presented on the last CEAS conference. The rocket plane to perform the mission needs operate at high angles of attack due to the vortex lift generation. However to fulfil this condition the control surfaces should ensure proper effectiveness. The static, dynamic stability and trim condition of the rocket plane at the high angle of attack should be assured. Therefore, the next step of aerodynamic improvement of the rocket plane is investigation.