Modelling Control Thruster Plume Flow and Impingement
To accurately predict the effects of control thruster plume impingement on spacecraft structures, an existing analytical plume flow model was extended to deliver all relevant flow quantities like Mach number, mean free path etc., and to include free molecular plume flow by defining a freezing surface. The impingement is treated by simple local models for continuum, transition and free molecular flow-surface interaction. A comparison of computed impingement torques to inflight data from the Orbital Test Satellite shows reasonable agreement, supporting the basic results of the investigation, but stressing the importance of knowing the gas dynamical quantities of the nozzle expansion flow as exactly as possible, especially the adiabatic exponent.
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