Aerodynamics of space transportation systems

Supersonic and Hypersonic Technology Department (HY)

Visualization of the flow around the X-38 wind tunnel model at Mach 1.75.
Separation of a 4-stage booster at Mach 1.8.
Flow around the wind tunnel model of the re-usable LFBB booster for ARIANE in TMK at Mach 1.6.
Investigation into the flow at the angles of yaw of an air inlet for an air-breathing engine, using IR-thermography.
Based on innovative technologies, low cost and/or re-usable space transportation systems are currently being developed. In the following working areas the department makes a major contribution with experimental investigations its wind tunnels:

Aerodynamics of entry configurations

This work is aimed at the determination of the aerodynamic characteristics and the load distribution for capsules and winged re-entry configurations. Due to their compact shape which has been optimised for the re-entry phase, the latter show an unfavourable aerodynamic behaviour during descent and landing. The “instationary derivatives” which contribute to the aerodynamic characteristics are therefore determined with special test methods for which the model has to carry out a free or forced oscillation. For example, investigations on the aerodynamic stability and efficiency of the control surfaces for the demonstrator for the X-38 crew return vehicle for the International Space Station were carried out.

Aerodynamics of rocket ascent

Aerodynamic investigations on conventional rocket configurations, e.g. of aerodynamic stability, pressure distribution and staging are also carried out in our ground testing facilities. One of the projects in the frame of the German program ASTRA (Ausgewählte Systeme und Technologien für zukünftige Raumtransport-Anwendungen) was the experimental study of  re-usable Liquid Fly-Back Boosters (LFBB) for their possible application for the ARIANE 5 launcher.

Atmospheric high speed flight

Here, the emphasis is on spacecraft with „air-breathing“ propulsion (LAPCAT). In comparison to rockets, air-propelled vehicles have the advantage that the oxygen required for combustion does not need to be carried. The ratio of payload to take-off-weight is therefore improved.  This work also has the objective of utilising this type of propulsion for more economical space transportation.Im Vordergrund stehen hier Raumflugzeuge mit „luftatmendem“ Antrieb (LAPCAT).

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Supersonic and Hypersonic Technology Department (AS-HYP) (
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