Engineering Science Fair Project
Analysis of Rocket Guidance Systems to Enhance Space Flight Efficiency and Maneuverability

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Project Information
Title: Analysis of Rocket Guidance Systems to Enhance Space Flight Efficiency and Maneuverability
Subject: Rockets
Subcategory: Space Exploration
Grade level: High School - Grades 9-12
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Engineering
Cost: High
Awards: The Virgin Galactic Pioneer Award
Affiliation: Google Science Fair
Year: 2016
Materials and Equipment: Brushless motors with propellers, AutoCAD, 3D printer, digital servos, HD camera.
Concepts: Reynold's Numbers, wind tunnel
Description: In this experiment, standard fins, Synthetic Jet Actuator fins, canard fins, and thrust vector control were tested in a wind tunnel designed and built for this project. The rocket models were 3D printed and the actuated control surfaces were connected to servos. The yaw (pitch) and drag force of each system was measured at 50 actuation angles at a 30 mph wind velocity. A large scale active roll stabilized rocket was then launched to further evaluate canard fins.

Guidance System

A guidance system is a virtual or physical device, or a group of devices implementing a guidance process used for controlling the movement of a ship, aircraft, missile, rocket, satellite, or any other moving object. Guidance is the process of calculating the changes in position, velocity, attitude, and/or rotation rates of a moving object required to follow a certain trajectory and/or attitude profile based on information about the object's state of motion.

A guidance system is usually part of a Guidance, navigation and control system, whereas navigation refers to the systems necessary to calculate the current position and orientation based on sensor data like those from compasses, GPS receivers, Loran-C, star trackers, inertial measurement units, altimeters, etc. The output of the navigation system, the navigation solution, is an input for the guidance system, among others like the environmental conditions (wind, water, temperature, etc.) and the vehicle's characteristics (i.e. mass, control system availability, control systems correlation to vector change, etc.). In general, the guidance system computes the instructions for the control system, which comprises the object's actuators (e.g., thrusters, reaction wheels, body flaps, etc.), which are able to manipulate the flight path and orientation of the object without direct or continuous human control.

One of the earliest examples of a true guidance system is that used in the German V-1 during World War II. The navigation system consisted of a simple gyroscope, an airspeed sensor, and an altimeter. The guidance instructions were target altitude, target velocity, cruise time, and engine cut off time.

A guidance system has three major sub-sections: Inputs, Processing, and Outputs. The input section includes sensors, course data, radio and satellite links, and other information sources. The processing section, composed of one or more CPUs, integrates this data and determines what actions, if any, are necessary to maintain or achieve a proper heading. This is then fed to the outputs which can directly affect the system's course. The outputs may control speed by interacting with devices such as turbines, and fuel pumps, or they may more directly alter course by actuating ailerons, rudders, or other devices.

Missile guidance refers to a variety of methods of guiding a missile or a guided bomb to its intended target. The missile's target accuracy is a critical factor for its effectiveness. Guidance systems improve missile accuracy by improving its "Single Shot Kill Probability" (SSKP), which is part of combat survivability calculations associated with the salvo combat model.

These guidance technologies can generally be divided up into a number of categories, with the broadest categories being "active," "passive" and "preset" guidance. Missiles and guided bombs generally use similar types of guidance system, the difference between the two being that missiles are powered by an onboard engine, whereas guided bombs rely on the speed and height of the launch aircraft for propulsion.

Preset guidance is the simplest type of missile guidance. From the distance and direction of the target, the trajectory of the flight path is determined. Before firing, this information is programmed into the missile's guidance system, which, during flight, maneuvers the missile to follow that path. All of the guidance components (including sensors such as accelerometers or gyroscopes) are contained within the missile, and no outside information (such as radio instructions) is used. An example of a missile using Preset Guidance is the V-2 rocket.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)

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