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Shock Waves (2006) 15(1): 3141

DOI 10.1007/s00193-005-0003-0
ORI GI NAL ARTI CLE
R. C. Mehta
Numerical simulation of supersonic ow past reentry capsules
Received: 24 June 2005 / Accepted: 31 August 2005 / Published online: 1 February 2006
C
Springer-Verlag 2006
Abstract The ow elds over ARD (ESAs atmospheric
reentry demonstrator), OREX (orbital reentry experiments)
and spherically blunted cone-are reentry congurations
are numerically obtained by solving time-dependent, ax-
isymmetric, compressible NavierStokes equations for
freestream Mach numbers range of 1.26.0. The uid dy-
namics are discretized in spatial coordinates employing a
nite volume approach which reduces the governing equa-
tions to semi discretized ordinary differential equations.
Temporal integration is performed using the multistage
RungeKutta time-stepping scheme. A local time step is
used to achieve steady-state solution. The numerical simu-
lation is carried out on a structured grid. The ow-eld fea-
tures around the reentry capsule, such as bow shock wave,
sonic line, expansion fan and recirculating ow in the base
region are obtained. A good agreement is found between
the calculated value of aerodynamic drag coefcient of the
spherically blunted cone/fare reentry conguration with the
experimental data. The effects of geometrical parameters,
such as radius of the spherical cap, half cone angle, with
sharp shoulder edge and with smooth shoulder edge on the
ow-eld have been numerically investigated for various
reentry conguration which will be useful for optimization
of the reentry capsule.
Keywords Supersonic ows Computational uid
dynamics Reentry capsules
PACS 47.11.Df, 47.40.Ki
1 Introduction
A high-speed ow-past a blunt-body generates a bow shock
wave which causes a rather high surface pressure and as
Communicated by K. Takayama
R. C. Mehta (B)
Aerodynamics Division, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre,
Trivandrum 695022, India
E-mail: atulm@md4.vsnl.net.in
a result the development of high aerodynamic drag which
is needed for aerobraking. Highly blunt congurations are
generally used to decelerate spacecraft for safe returning on
the Earth after performing the experiments. The bow shock
wave is detached from the blunt forebody and is having a
mixed subsonicsupersonic region between them. The sur-
face pressure distribution, the location of the sonic line and
the shock stand-off distance on the spherical cap have been
analytically calculated at very high speeds with an adiabatic
index near to unity which gives a singular point at 60

from
the stagnation point [1, 2]. The analytical approach for the
high-speed ow-past the blunt-body is considerably difcult
and complex [3]. The ow-eld over the reentry module be-
comes further complicated due to the presence of corner at
the shoulder and the base shell of the capsule.
Aeroassist ight experiment (AFE) congurations have
been analyzed using two different NavierStokes ow
solvers by Venkatapathy et al. [4]. Aerodynamic heating
and pressure along with the forebody and wake-ow struc-
ture during atmospheric entry of the Mars Pathnder space-
craft have been computed by Haas and Venkatapathy [5] us-
ing the commerically available general atmospheric simula-
tion program (GASP 2.2). An aerodynamic analysis of the
commercial experiment transport (COMET) reentry capsule
has been carried out by Wood et al. [6] solving the lami-
nar thin layer NavierStokes LAURA code for low super-
sonic to hypersonic speeds. The LAURA code is an upwind,
point implicit, second-order-accurate uid dynamics solver
based on an extension of the Roe ux-difference-splitting
scheme. Yamomoto et al. [7] carried out ow-eld com-
putation over the OREX (orbital reentry experiments) us-
ing computational uid dynamics approach coupled with the
thermal response of the heat shield material using nite el-
ement method in conjunction with the aerodynamic ight
data. Tam [8] has computed ow eld at hypersonic Mach
numbers over Viking, Biconic and AFE reentry capsules us-
ing IEC3D (inviscid equilibrium computation in three di-
mension). Menne [9] has computed ow eld over Viking
(Apollo type) and Biconic cases for freestream Mach num-
bers 2.0 and 3.0 by solving Euler equations. The inviscid
32 R. C. Mehta
Fig. 1 Representation of ow features on blunted body at supersonic speeds
analysis is unable to predict the ow separation in the back
region of the reentry module. The aerodynamic characteri-
zation of the CARINA reentry module in the low supersonic
Mach regimes has been performed employing numerical and
experimental approach [10]. The ow-eld simulation past
the ARD (ESAs atmospheric reentry demonstrator) module
has been computed numerically by Walpot [11] at hyper-
sonic speeds. Developments relating to base pressure and
base heating prediction for wide range of cone and wedge
have been reviewed for supersonic and hypersonic Mach
numbers by Lamb and Oberkampf [12]. Recently, ow-
eld solutions past Beagle-2 spacecraft have been obtained
by Liever et al. [13] using commerically available CFD-
FASTRAN code for low supersonic to hypersonic speeds.
A numerical simulation code has been used for super or-
bital reentry ow and has been applied to the ow-eld pre-
diction around the MUSES-C reentry capsule [14]. Super-
sonic and hypersonic ow over a slender cone [15] has been
numerically obtained by solving NavierStokes equations
using an explicit multi-stage Roes scheme. The ow eld
around blunt reentry capsules [16] were numerically stud-
ied in order to understand the mechanism of dynamic in-
stability of the capsule at freestream Mach number of 1.3.
The blunt and short reentry capsule tends to be dynami-
cally unstable at low supersonic Mach number attributed
primarily to the delay in base pressure [17]. Numerical
studies have been carried out by Ottens [18] using a lam-
inar NavierStokes ow solver for two different types of
delft aerospace reentry test (DART) demonstrators reentry
modules.
The above literature survey reveals that the forebody
shape of reentry capsules can be classied either using as
a spherical cap as in the case of Apollo and ARD, or com-
bination of the spherical nose with cone as in the case of
OREX and Beagle-2, or a spherical blunt-cone/are cong-
uration as proposed by DART. The ow-eld features over
the reentry capsule can be delineated through the experimen-
tal and theoretical investigations at high speeds. The signif-
icant ow features are described by the following: In the
forebody region, the uid decelerates through the bow shock
wave depending upon the cruise speed and altitude. At the
shoulder of the capsule, the ow turns and expands rapidly,
and the boundary layer detaches, forming a free shear layer
that separates the inner recirculating ow region behind the
base from the outer ow eld. The latter is recompressed
and turned back to freestream direction, rst by the so-called
lip shock, and further downstream by recompression shock.
At the end of the recirculating ow past the neck, the shear
layer develops in the wake trail. A complex inviscid wave
structure often includes a lip shock wave (associates with
the corner expansion) and wake trail (adjacent to the shear-
layer conuence). The corner expansion process is a modi-
ed PrandtlMayer pattern distorted by the presence of the
approaching boundary layer. Figure 1 shows schematic fea-
tures of the ow eld over OREX and DART.
The sonic line is located on the OREX-type congura-
tion on the shoulder whereas in the case of DARTs reentry
module, the location of the sonic line is at the junction of the
spherical blunt cone. Thus, it is seen that the ow eld over
the reentry capsule needs a high drag with good static stabil-
ity margin which leads to the selection of an axisymmetric
shape of large angle sphere-cone combination.
The forebody geometry of the ARD conguration is hav-
ing a spherical cap; the OREX module is having combina-
tion of spherical cap with cone. The other capsule consists
of spherically blunted cone/fare. These capsules cover most
of the existing reentry modules. The main aim of the present
paper is to numerically analyze three types of reentry mod-
ules such as ARD, OREX and DART congurations in order
to understand ow-eld behavior and its inuence on pro-
les of the surface pressure and skin friction coefcients and
also aerodynamic drag for freestream Mach numbers range
of 1.26.0. The numerical solution of solve-axisymmetric
laminar-compressible time-dependent NavierStokes equa-
tions is carried out employing a multi-stage RungeKutta
time stepping scheme. The numerical scheme is second-
order accurate in space and time. A local time step is used
to obtain a steady-state solution. The computation is carried
Numerical simulation of supersonic ow past reentry capsules 33
out on a structured grid. The effects of geometrical parame-
ters of the reentry capsules on the wall quantities and aero-
dynamic drag coefcient are analyzed using the numerically
obtained ow-eld data.
2 Problem denition and approach
2.1 Governing equations
The axisymmetric time-dependent compressible Navier
Stokes equations can be written in the following strong con-
servative form:
W
t
+
F
x
+
G
r
+H =
_
R
x
+
S
r
_
(1)
where
W= r
_
_
_
_
_

u
v
e
_

_
, F = r
_
_
_
_
_
u
u
2
+ p
uv
(e + p)u
_

_
,
G = r
_
_
_
_
_
v
uv
v
2
+ p
(e + p)v
_

_
are the state vector W and inviscid ux vectors F and G.
The viscous ux vectors are R, S, and H is the source vector
term.
R = r
_
_
_
_
_
0

xx

xr
u
xx
+
xr
+q
x
_

_
,
S = r
_
_
_
_
_
0

xr

rr
u
xr
+
rr
+q
r
_

_
, H =
_
_
_
_
_
0
0

+
0
_

_
where
xx
,
rr
,
xr
and
+
are components of the stress
vector, q
x
and q
r
are components of the ux vector, u
and are axial- and radial-velocity components in x and
r directions, respectively, e is the total energy. Thus, the
viscous terms in the above equations become

xx
=
2
3
U +2
u
x

rr
=
2
3
U +2

xr
=
r x
=
_
u
r
+

x
_

+
= p
2
3
U +2

r
U =
x
x
+

r
+

r
q
x
=
C
p

Pr
T
x
q
r
=
C
p

Pr
T
r
where C
p
is specic heat at constant pressure, U is the mean
upstream velocity. Pr is the Prandtl number. The coefcient
of molecular viscosity is calculated according to Suther-
lands law. The ow is assumed to be laminar, which is con-
sistent with the numerical simulation of [6, 13, 15]. The tem-
perature T is related to the pressure p and by the perfect
gas equation of state as
p
( 1)
=
_
e
1
2
(u
2
+
2
)
_
(2)
The ratio of specic heats was assumed constant and
equal to 1.4.
2.2 Numerical algorithm
2.2.1 Spatial discretization
To facilitate the spatial discretization in the numerical
scheme, the governing uid dynamics, Eq. (1), can be writ-
ten in the integral form over a nite volume as

t
_

Wd+
_

(Fdr Gdx) =
_

(Rdr Sdx)
_

Hd
(3)
where is the computational domain, is the boundary of
the domain. The contour integration around the boundary of
the cell is taken in the anticlockwise sense.
The computational domain is divided into a nite num-
ber of non-overlapping quadilateral cells. The conservation
variables within the computational cell are represented by
their average values at the cell centre (i, j ). When the inte-
gral governing Eq. (3) is applied separately to each cell in
the computational domain, we obtain a set of coupled ordi-
nary differential equations of the form
A
i, j
W
i, j
t
= Q(W
i, j
) V(W
i, j
) +A
i, j
H
i, j
(4)
where A
i, j
is the area of the computational cell, Q(W
i, j
),
V(W
i, j
) and H(W
i, j
) are the inviscid and viscous uxes
and source term, respectively. These quantities are obtained
by a simple averaging of adjacent cell-centre values of de-
pendent variables [19]. In viscous calculations, dissipating
properties are present due to diffusive terms.
34 R. C. Mehta
2.2.2 Articial dissipation
To suppress the tendency for odd- and even-point decoupling
and to prevent the appearance of oscillations in regions con-
taining severe pressure gradients near shock wave and stag-
nation points, the nite volume scheme must be augmented
by the addition of artical dissipation terms. Therefore,
Eq. (4) is replaced by
A
i, j
W
i, j
t
+Res(W
i, j
) D(W
i, j
) = 0 (5)
where the residual Res(W) is given by
Res(W
i, j
) = Q(W
i, j
) V(W
i, j
) +A
i, j
H
i, j
(6)
where D
i, j
denotes the dissipative terms which are gener-
ated by dissipative uxes. The approach of Jameson et al.
[20] is adopted to construct the dissipative terms consisting
of a blend of second and fourth differences of the vector
conserved variables W
i, j
with coefcients that depend on
the local pressure gradient. The dissipation term consists of
the following operators in each direction.
D = (D
x
+D
r
)W
i, j
(7)
The dissipative uxes in each direction are
D
x
U
i, j
= d
i +
1
2
, j
d
i
1
2
, j
D
r
U
i, j
= d
i, j +
1
2
d
i, j
1
2
.
The dissipative ux d
i +
1
2
, j
is dened as
d
i +
1
2
, j
=
(A)
i +
1
2
, j
(t )
i +
1
2
, j
_
d
(2)
i +
1
2
, j
d
(4)
i +
1
2
, j
_
(8)
with
d
(2)
i +
1
2
, j
=
(2)
(W
i +1, j
W
i, j
)
d
(4)
i +
1
2
, j
=
(4)
(W
i +2, j
3W
i +1, j
+3W
i, j
W
i 1, j
).
(9)
The terms d
i
1
2
, j
, d
i, j +
1
2
and d
i, j
1
2
are calculated in an
analogus manner.
(2)
and
(4)
are adaptive coefcients and
dened as

(2)
=
(2)
max(
i +1, j
,
i, j
)

(4)
= max
_
0,
(4)

(2)
_
(10)
are switched on or off by use of the shock wave sensor ,
with

i, j
=

p
i +1, j
2p
i, j
+ p
i 1, j
p
i +1
, j +2p
i, j
+ p
i 1, j

(11)
where
(2)
are
(4)
are constants, taken equal to
1
4
and
1
256
,
respectively, in the above calculations. The scaling quantity
(
A
t
)
i +
1
2
, j
in Eq. (8) conrms the inclusion of the cell vol-
ume in the dependent variable of Eq. (4). The blend of sec-
ond and fourth differences provides third-order background
dissipation in smooth regions of the ow and rst-order dis-
sipation as shock waves. The dissipation terms in the r-
direction are constructed in a similar way.
2.2.3 Time-marching scheme
The spatial discretization described above reduces the gov-
erning ow equations to semidiscrete ordinary differential
equations. The integration is performed using an efcient
mutistage three-stage RungeKutta time-stepping scheme
[20]. The time-step advance of each variable W from time
(t ) to time (t +t ) can be written as
W
(0)
= W(t )
W
(1)
= W(t ) 0.6
_
t
A
_
_
Res
(0)
D
(0)
_
W
(1)
= W(t ) 0.6
_
t
A
_
_
Res
(1)
D
(0)
_
W
(1)
= W(t ) 0.6
_
t
A
_
_
Res
(2)
D
(0)
_
W(t +t ) = W
(3)
(12)
In order to minimize the computation time and increase
the stability margin for the dissipative terms, the expensive
evaluation of the articial dissipation terms is carried out
only at the rst intermediate stage (0) and then frozen for the
subsequent stages. A conservative choice of the Courant
FriedrichsLewy (CFL) number (1.4) is taken to achieve a
stable numerical solution. Local time steps are used to ac-
clerate convergence to a steady-state solution by setting the
time step at each point to the maximum value allowed by
the local CFL condition. The present numerical algorithm is
validated with many test cases [21, 22].
2.3 Initial and boundary conditions
The freestream conditions for each trajectory point are enu-
merated in Table 1, which are used as the initial conditions.
The subscript represents freestream value in Table 1.
Four types of boundary conditions are required for the
computation of ow eld, i.e. wall, inow, outow and sym-
metric conditions. They are prescribed as follows:
At the solid wall, no-slip condition is enforced by setting
u
w
= v
w
= 0 (13)
together with an adiabatic wall condition where subscript w
refers to the wall condition.
At the inow, all ow variables are prescribed at the
freestream values as given in Table 1.
For the supersonic outowcase, all owvariables are ex-
trapolated at the outer and wake regions of the computational
Table 1 Trajectory points and initial conditions
M

m/s p

, (Pa) T

, (K)
1.2 351 4519 210
2.0 596 2891 219
3.0 903 2073 224
5.0 1532 1238 232
6.0 1840 1064 234
Numerical simulation of supersonic ow past reentry capsules 35
Fig. 2 Geometrical parameters of reentry capsules
domain. At the centre line of the computational domain, the
following symmetric conditions are prescribed.
= 0
u
r
=
T
r
=
p
r
= 0
(14)
At the center line of the reentry capsule, the respective
cell faces are having zero surface area; therefore, it is simple
to implement the symmetric conditions.
3 Model and grid arrangement
3.1 Body conguration
The dimensional detail of the ARD capsule, shown in
Fig. 2a, is an axisymmetric design with a spherical blunt
nose diameter, D = 2.8 m, spherical cap radius, R
N
=
3.36 m and a shoulder radius, R
C
= 0.014 m. The back shell
has inclination angle
B
= 33

relative to the vehicles axis


of symmetry. A frustum of cone of radius 0.507 m with a
12

half angle cone is attached to the base region. The over-


all length of the module L = 2.04 m. The ARD resembles a
70% scaled version of Apollo capsule [11].
The OREX geometry is depicted in Fig. 2b with the de-
tailed dimensions. The forebody shape consists of R
N
=
1.35 m, a half-angle cone of
N
= 50

, D = 3.4 m,
L = 1.508 m and R
C
= 0.01 m. The OREX geometry in-
corporates a rear cover with a small backward facing step
at the junction between back cover and heat shield. The aft
body is having a,
B
= 15

, half-angle cone relative to the


plane of symmetry.
The spherically blunted-cone/are conguration is illus-
trated in Fig. 2c. The conical forebody has R
N
= 0.51 m,
D = 2.03 m, L = 1.67 m and
N
= 20

. The are has a


half-angle cone of 25

and is terminated with a right circu-


lar cylinder and is geometrically similar to the REV of the
DART demonstrator [18].
3.2 Computational grid
One of the controlling factors for the numerical simulation
is the proper grid arrangement. In order to initiate the nu-
merical simulation of ow over the body, the physical shape
is discretized into nonuniform-spaced grid points. These
body-oriented grids are generated algebraically in conjunc-
tion with homotopy scheme [23]. The typical computational
space over the reentry capsule is dened by a number of grid
points in cylindrical coordinate system. Using these surface
points as the reference nodes, the normal coordinate is then
described by exponentially structured eld points, (x
i, j
, r
i, j
)
extending outwards upto an outer computational boundary.
The stretching of grid points in the normal direction is ob-
tained using the following expression:
x
i, j
= x
i,0
_
e
( j 1)
nr 1
1
e

1
_
+ x
i,w
_
1
e
( j 1)
nr 1
1
e

1
_
r
i, j
= r
i,0
_
e
( j 1)
nr 1
1
e

1
_
+r
i,w
_
1
e
( j 1)
nr 1
1
e

1
_
i = 1, 2, . . . , n
x
j = 1, 2, . . . , n
r
(15)
36 R. C. Mehta
Fig. 3 Enlarged view of computational grid
where r
i,w
and r
i,0
are wall and outer surface points, respec-
tively, is the streching factor. n
x
and n
r
are total number of
grid points in x and r directions, respectively. These streched
grids are generated in an orderly manner. The typical com-
putational space of the reentry module is dened by a num-
ber of grid points in the cylindrical coordinate system. Using
these surface points as the reference nodes, the normal co-
ordinate is then described by exponentially streched struc-
tured eld points, extending up to an outer computational
boundary. The streched grid points in the direction is ob-
tained using exponentially stretched relation. These grids are
generated in an orderly manner. Grid independence tests are
carried out taking into consideration the effect of the com-
putational domain, the streching factor to control the grid
intensity near the wall, and the number of grid points in the
axial and normal directions. The outer boundary of the com-
putational domain is varied from 5 to 12 times the maximum
diameter of the capsule. The grid streching factor in the ra-
dial direction is varied from 1.5 to 5. The present numerical
analysis is carried out on 132 52 grid points. The grid
streching factor is selected as 5, and the outer boundary of
the computational domain is kept about 47 times the maxi-
mum diameter of the reentry module. In the downstream di-
rection, the computational boundary is about 610 times the
maximum diameter of the capsule. The minimum grid spac-
ing at the wall is about 2 10
5
8 10
5
m, sufcient
to resolve the boundary layer and complex ow eld which
gives resulting Reynolds number after bow shock wave for
this minimum grid spacing as 3341. The coarse grid helps
in reducing the computer time. A close-up view of the com-
putational grid over different capsules can be seen in Fig. 3.
This grid arrangement is found to give a difference mea-
sured and computed values of 1.5% in the drag coefcient.
The convergence criterion is based on the difference in den-
sity values, , at any grid point between two successive iter-
ations, that is, |
l+1

l
| 10
5
, where l is the iterative
index.
4 Results and discussion
The numerical procedure described in the previous section
is applied here to compute oweld over ARD (ESAs at-
mospheric reentry demonstrator), OREX (orbital reentry ex-
periments) with a smooth and a sharp shoulder edge and
a spherically blunted cone-are reentry modules and for
freestream Mach numbers range of 1.26.0.
4.1 Flow characteristics
Figures 47 show the enlarged view of the computed veloc-
ity vector eld over the above-mentioned vehicles at various
freestream Mach numbers M

. It can be visualized from the


vector plots that all the signicant oweld features such as
bow shock wave, rapid expansion fans on the corner, ow re-
circulation region with converging free shear layer and for-
mation of the vortex ow in the aft region of the capsule.
The wake ow eld, immediately behind the capsule base,
exhibits complex ow characteristics. The formation of the
bow shock wave on the forebody of the capsule is observed,
which depends on R
N
and
N
and the value of M

. The
bow shock wave moves close to the forebody with the in-
creasing M

and the stand off distance between bow shock


wave and the forebody decreases with the increasing M

.
Fig. 4 Enlarged view of velocity eld over ARD
Numerical simulation of supersonic ow past reentry capsules 37
Fig. 5 Enlarged view of velocity eld over OREX (with smooth shoul-
der edge)
Fig. 6 Enlarged viewof velocity eld over OREX(with sharp shoulder
edge)
In Fig. 7, the bow shock wave does not follow the body con-
tour in the case of the spherically blunted cone-are cong-
uration, which is attributed to small values of R
N
and
N
as
compared to OREX. A gradual ow turning can be visual-
ized in the case of OREX with smooth shoulder edge as seen
in Fig. 5 whereas a sharp ow turning is found in the sharp
shoulder edge of the OREX as noticed in Fig. 6. The ap-
proaching supersonic boundary layer separates at the corner
and the free shear layer is formed in the wake region. The
wake ow feature also depicts vortex attached to the corner
with a large recirculating ow behind the vehicle adjacent to
the axis of symmetry which depends on
B
and M

. The
separation point moves downstream from the shoulder to-
wards the base with the increase in M

. Similar ow-eld
features were observed in the analysis of the bulbous pay-
load shroud of the heat shield of the launch vehicle [24].
Fig. 7 Enlarged view of velocity eld over spherically blunted cone-
are module
Computed Mach contour plots around the various
capsules are shown in Figs. 811 for various freestream
M

. The Mach contour plots show the formation of


vortices at the corner region of the capsule for M

3.
Characteristic features of the ow eld around the blunt
body at supersonic speeds, such as bow shock wave ahead of
the capsule, the wake, and the recompression shock waves
emanating from the neck point, are observed in the Mach
contour plots. In Figs. 810, the bow shock wave follows
the body contour and the forebody is entirely subsonic upto
the corner tangency point of the ARD and the OREX where
the sonic line is located. In the case of spherically blunted
Fig. 8 Mach contours over ARD
38 R. C. Mehta
Fig. 9 Mach contours over OREX (with smooth shoulder edge)
Fig. 10 Mach contours over OREX (with sharp shoulder edge)
Fig. 11 Mach contours over spherically blunted cone-are module
cone-are module, the sonic line is located at the junction of
the sphere cone as seen in Fig. 11. The Mach contour plots
reveal many intresting ow features of the reentry capsule.
The ow expands at the base corner and is followed by the
recompression shock downstream of the base which realigns
the ow. The ow then develops in the trailing wake. The
ow ground of the capsule is divided into regions inside and
outside of the ow recirculating zone, and two regions are
separated by the shear layer. The wake structure includes
one vortex attached to the conical after-body frustum and
a large recirculating vortex behind the reentry module.
As observed in Figs. 811, vortices are generated at the
capsule surface and are then moving and changing location
with M

. One can also see the strong vortex ow over


the shoulder of the capsule at Mach number 1.2 and 2.0.
The ow may become highly unsteady at supersonic Mach
numbers [16, 17] due to the formation of the vortices. Note,
however, that use of a xed CFL number in the present
numerical ow simulation leads to a local time step size
which differs throughout the ow domain. The local time
stepping scheme gives rapid convergence for steady-ow
problem but cannot compute time accurate behaviour. Rapid
expansion around the fore body corners produces high
Mach numbers in the outer inviscid region of the wake.
Figures 1215 show the pressure coefcient [C
p
=
2( p/p

) 1/ M
2

] variation along the surface for dif-


ferent reentry capsules and freestream Mach numbers. The
s/D = 0 location is the stagnation point, where s is the dis-
tance measured along the surface from the stagnation point
and D is the maximum diameter of the capsule. The pres-
sure coefcient on the spherical cap of the capsule decreases
gradually for a given M

. In Figs. 1315, C
p
falls on the
sphere-cone junction and remains constant over the cone.
In the case of the ARD and the OREX, the sonic point
moves to the corner of the blunt bodies and affects the pres-
sure distribution throughout the subsonic ow. In the case of
the OREX with
N
= 50

, the pressure coefcient shows


Fig. 12 Variation of pressure coefcient along the surface (ARD)
Numerical simulation of supersonic ow past reentry capsules 39
Fig. 13 Variation of pressure coefcient along the surface (OREXwith
smooth shoulder edge)
Fig. 14 Variation of pressure coefcient along the surface (OREXwith
sharp shoulder edge)
overexpanded ow. The spherically blunted cone-are con-
guration (
N
= 20

) gives underexpanded ow as seen in


Fig. 15. These types of ow-eld features are also explained
by Bertin [25] in conjunction with ow past reentry cap-
sules. A sudden drop in C
p
is observed on the shoulder of
the module followed by a negative C
p
variation in the base
region. A low pressure is formed immediately downstream
of the base which is characterized by a low-speed recirculat-
ing ow region which can be attributed to ll-up the growing
space between the shock wave and the body [3]. In the base
region, C
p
is decreasing with increasing M

. The effect of
the corner radius on C
p
can be observed in Figs. 13 and 14.
The value of C
p
is higher on the corner as compared with the
sharp shoulder edge of the OREX module. At M

= 1.2, a
wavy pattern is observed in the pressure distribution in the
Fig. 15 Variation of pressure coefcient along the surface (spherically
blunted cone-are module)
Fig. 16 Variation of skin friction coefcient along the surface (ARD)
base region which may be attributed due to complex geom-
etry in the base region of the OREX.
The skin friction coefcient C
t
along the surface of the
capsule is computed using following relation.
C
f
=

du
dr

wall
1
2
u
2

(16)
Figures 1619 depict the variation of C
f
along the sur-
face of the capsule with M

as a parameter. C
f
decreases
with increasing M

on the forebody. In Fig. 19, the skin


friction increases in the spherical region then decreases on
the rst cone generator and again starts increasing on the
are. A sudden drop in skin friction is found at the shoulder
of the capsule. This may be attributed to sudden expansion
of the ow on the corner. Negative skin friction can be seen
40 R. C. Mehta
Fig. 17 Variation of skin friction coefcient along the surface (OREX
with smooth shoulder edge)
on the base, which is due to the ow separation. The separa-
tion zone is found to be function of M

and geometry of the


base region of the capsule. Pressure fore drag is calculated
by integrating the pressure distribution on the body surface
excluding the base of the capsule and can be expressed as
C
D
=
2r
i
C
p
_
i
tan dx
A
max
(17)
where r and are local radius and local inclination angle in
the x-direction station i respectively. A
max
is the maximum
area of the capsule. Table 2 gives pressure-drag coef-
cient of the ARD, the OREX- and the spherically blunted
cone-are congurations at different M

. C
D
increased
as the nose radius is increased; as expected, the increase is
relatively small. High aerodynamic drag is seen in the ARD-
and the OREX- type module as compared with the spherical
blunt congurations. High C
D
is found for the OREX
with the smooth shoulder edge as compared to the corner
radius. A good agreement is found between the calculated
value of forebody aerodynamic drag coefcient of the
spherically blunted cone-fare reentry conguration with the
experimental data.
Table 2 Forebody pressure drag coefcient
M Calculated value of C
D
Experimental
value of C
D
ARD OREX with smooth OREX with sharp Spherically blunted Spherically blunted
shoulder edge shoulder edge cone are cone are
1.2 1.45 1.82 1.80 0.43 0.42
2 1.43 1.50 1.36 0.42 0.41
3 1.28 1.30 1.17 0.39 0.40
5 1.13 1.16 1.04
6 0.37 0.38
Fig. 18 Variation of skin friction coefcient along the surface (OREX
with sharp shoulder edge)
Fig. 19 Variation of skin friction coefcient along the surface (spheri-
cally blunted cone-are module)
Numerical simulation of supersonic ow past reentry capsules 41
5 Conclusion
The ow eld over various reentry axisymmetric congu-
rations are studied numerically by solving time-dependent
compressible NavierStokes equations. The governing uid-
ow equations are discretized in spatial coordinates employ-
ing a nite volume approach which reduces the equations
to semi-discretized ordinary differential equations. Tempo-
ral integration is performed using the two-stage Runge
Kutta time-stepping scheme. A local time step is used to
achieved steady-state solution. Flow eld around the cap-
sules have been calculated in the freestream Mach number
range of 1.26.0 for different congurations. The essential
ow-eld features around the capsules are captured for vari-
ous reentry capsules. The effects of geometrical parameters,
such as radius of the spherical cap, half cone angle, with
the sharp shoulder edge and with the smooth shoulder edge
on the ow eld have been numerically investigated for var-
ious reentry conguration. The ARD, the OREX capsules
have the sonic line over the forebody shoulder whereas the
spherically blunted cone-are module is having sonic line
over the spherical cap region. The ow eld behind the bow
shock wave is either subsonic or mixed subsonicsupersonic
region depending upon the geometrical parameters of the
reentry conguration. Thus, the reentry congurations can
be distinguished by the location of the sonic line over the
fore-body at supersonic Mach number which inuences wall
pressure and skin friction variations and also aerodynamic
drag coefcient. The shoulder edge affects the corner expan-
sion wave. The pressure coefcient, the skin friction coef-
cient variation along the surface and the integrated value of
pressure coefcient will be useful quantities for optimization
of the reentry capsule.
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