Successful flight of the Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator (ARD) in late 1998 marked the first civil atmospheric reentry and recovery achieved by European nations. Launched on an Ariane 5 from the Guiana space port in Korou, French Guiana, the capsule reached a maximum altitude of 830 km before descent to reentry and a splashdown within 5 km of its target point. The project was conducted primarily to validate existing and future ground-based experimental and numerical aerothermodynamic models, to qualify the design of thermal protection materials, and to help assess navigation, guidance and control system performance.
A postflight simulation campaign for the ARD capsule has been conducted in HEG, coordinated by prime contractor EADS Launch Vehicles. As part of the campaign, a range of numerical and experimental research work was performed at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to reproduce aeroheating and aerodynamic data for the capsule in hypersonic flight. One objective of the work was to help refine and cross-check the available numerical and experimental ground-based simulation facilities through use of a single geometry.
Post-flight presentation of the ARD capsule (courtesy Aerospatiale).
Visualization of the front-shock during experiments in high enthalpy shock-tunnel Göttingen (HEG)