ROTEX – T – ROcket Technology Experiment – Transition

In order to improve the reliability of flight experiments, a scientific preparation phase, status monitoring during the flight and detailed post-flight analysis are indispensable. This is why the RWTH Aachen and the German Aerospace Center have set themselves the common goal of using the ROTEX (Rocket Technology Experiment), not just for the qualification of a new booster, but also to capture valuable data using comprehensive scientific instrumentation, and use the data for validation of calculation methods which are used to design the experiment.

During the preparation phase, ground experiments are conducted to characterise the scaled solid propellant booster and determine the aerothermodynamic loads. The numerical simulation of the experiment and its comparison to wind tunnel and flight data allows the team to improve these numerical tools and thus predict the flight performance of the ROTEX experiment. This is achieved by the coupling of the tools for flight mechanics, aerodynamics, propulsion and structure. Simultaneously, the instrumentation on the rocket is prepared with various sensors and data capture systems. For this purpose, the upper rocket stage and the scientific payload are equipped with different pressure sensors, thermocouples, heat flow sensors and fibre-optic sensors. Part of the data is sent to ground stations using telemetry. The data with a high sampling rate of up to 1 MHz is recorded by an on-board memory and read out after the flight.

The flight was conducted successfully on 19 July 2016 and the payload was almost completely recovered after the high speed crash to the ground. The crash resistant storage media allowed to extract the experimental high speed data for scientific analysis as planned.