Research on an innovative new heat shield
Launch of SHEFEX II on June 22, 2012, from the Norwegian rocket launch pad Andøya. Photo: Trond Abrahamsen, Andøya Rocket Range.
With SHEFEX II (Sharp Edge Flight Experiment II), the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is researching innovative heat shield technologies that are considerably less expensive and easier to service than those used for existing space vehicles. This is due to the simple design: The heat shield of the SHEFEX nose cone consists of flat panels that are easier and therefore cheaper to manufacture than the curved shapes currently in common use.
On June 22, 2012, a high-altitude test rocket was launched from the Norwegian launch pad Andøya, carrying the SHEFEX nose cone up to an altitude of approx. 180 km. It reached a speed of 11,000 km/h, which is about 11 times the speed of sound. During reentry into the atmosphere, the SHEFEX nose cone withstood temperatures of over 2,500 degrees Celsius, and its 300+ sensors transmitted a wealth of measurement data to the ground station. Its flight was actively controlled by four control fins called canards.
Advance Testing with dSPACE System
The canards controlled the flight of the SHEFEX with the help of several navigation systems (including GPS and inertial navigation) whose interaction was tested on the ground beforehand. This was done with a dSPACE system consisting of a DS1006 Processor Board, various I/O boards and the experiment software ControlDesk (as reported in dSPACE Magazine 3/2010). To test the SHEFEX navigation computer, the system calculated the trajectory and the navigation systems' flight-attitude-dependent signals. In view of the rocket's high speed, particular attention was paid to synchronizing the signals with the internal clock of the navigation computer.
Article on SHEFEX II from dSPACE Magazine 3/2010: