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Wolfgang Jung(1), Raul de Magalhães Gomes(2), João Emile Louis(3), Olavo de Souza Neto(4)
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR) e.V., RB-MR, D-82234 Wessling, Germany
Flight Safety Activities (FSAct), São José dos Campos, Brazil
Phone: (+49) 8153 28 2724, E-mail: wolfgang.jung@dlr.de
Phone: (+55) 35 3343 3191, E-mail: raulm.gomes@flightsafetyactivities.com.br
Phone: (+55) 12 3941 6164, E-mail: joao.louis@flightsafetyactivities.com.br
Phone: (+55) 84 4008 7348, E-mail: olavo.souza@flightsafetyactivities.com.br

ABSTRACT wind direction and velocity data with a frequency of 1

Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) of the DLR and Flight The alternative use of RADAR, SODAR or LIDAR
Safety Activities Ltda. Of Brazil are currently profilers was investigated by Andøya Rocket Range in
developing a new real-time wind-weighting program for Norway and Esrange Space Center in Sweden, but they
Unguided Suborbital Launch Vehicles. were not implemented, because of inadequate accuracy
The program, named after the Greek god of winds (e.g. acoustic profiler such as SODAR near the sea
Aeolus, is embedded in the launch safety concept shore), or by their considerable cost impact.
consisting of a real-time 6-DOF program, a remote GPS radio sondes are launched frequently, providing
launcher control, the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle, position, wind velocity and direction with a resolution
and a GPS-based instantaneous impact point prediction. of around 5-6m/s, depending on the ascent velocity of
Aeolus provides all Go/No-Go criteria necessary for the the balloon.
final launcher adjustment as they are: The launcher adjustment is performed with the so called
o Release sequence and altitude levels for high, “Lewis” method, meaning the winds at dedicated
medium and low altitude radiosondes altitudes are multiplied with the corresponding wind
o Ground, ballistic, absolute, and shear wind sensitivity of the vehicle. Finally the computation is
limit verification verified with a 6-DOF trajectory program.
o Booster and sustainer impact prediction The launcher adjustment settings are then
o Elevation and azimuth variation verification communicated to the launch crew, which manually sets
after final launcher adjustment the launcher to the desired values, several minutes
o Wind stability analysis based on before lift-off.
meteorological and actual wind measurements Once the final launcher settings are applied, the wind
The presented wind-weighting setup supports flight anemometer readings and their effects are monitored by
safety personnel with a state-of-the-art system, ensuring flight safety to verify that any changes, without
safe sounding rocket launches, minimizing countdown additional launcher correction, are within allowable
attempts, and optimizing countdown duration. tolerances.

1. PRESENT WIND WEIGHTING SET-UP 1.1 Dispersion of Unguided Suborbital Launch

The present wind weighting technique comprises
various 6-DOF, no-wind, pre-flight trajectory The flight of Unguided Suborbital Launch Vehicles
computations, to calculate the wind sensitivity per (USLV) is often perturbed by effects, which can cause
altitude layer and for different launch elevation angles. angular dispersion before rocket spin starts to build up,
Unit wind and tower tilt computation complete the wind as follows:
weighting process. o Thrust misalignment
A RSS (square root of the sum of the squares) or o Fin misalignment
Monte-Carlo analysis provides the 3-sigma dispersion o Variation in launch velocity causing variation
ellipse. in wind effect
During the countdown, ground winds are derived from a o Nozzle erosion and distortion
wind tower with fixed anemometer levels to determine o Separation dispersion (boost carriage)

Proc. ‘19th ESA Symposium on European Rocket and Balloon Programmes and Related Research,
Bad Reichenhall, Germany, 7–11 June 2009 (ESA SP-671, September 2009)
To minimize the dispersion, the VSB-30 and other The fin of the VSB-30 was designed such that the
launch vehicles are equipped with an additional spin-up structural integrity is guaranteed to withstand Angles of
system. Attack (AOA) up to 4 degrees. The AOA is THE most
Further effects which can cause impact dispersion in the important design parameter.
range are: For a launch at Esrange Launch Center the following
o Launcher setting errors boundary conditions apply:
o Tip-off effect o Nom. impact range: 70-75 km
o Variation in burning time o Nom. no-wind launch elevation: 88.0 deg
o Ignition delay of upper stages o Max. actual launch elevation: 89.0 deg
o Variation in ambient temperature at altitude o Max. 1-sigma dispersion radius: 20 km
causing variation in speed of sound and Looking at the constraints, it can be easily seen that the
density, affecting the apogee altitude wind weighting is not trivial, demanding high accuracy
o Variation in total impulse of the measured data.
o For a given payload, variations in vehicle
structure weight 1.3 Boost Guidance System
o Determination of aerodynamic coefficients
with half-empirical software A method to reduce launch delays caused by wind is the
o Wind implementation of a guidance system, e.g. the S-19
The most significant dispersion factors are the launcher family (DS19, S19D, S19L) from RUAG Aerospace
setting error and the influence of wind variations. Sweden AB. The systems are well known, flight proven,
The launcher setting error can be easily determined and qualified for single rail launchers.
prior to launch, so that the real impact is minor. A negative aspect is certainly the additional mass,
The wind variation should not be underestimated, if one nevertheless even if it can be compensated with light
reflects on the wind measurement process. The weight structures such as carbon fibre.
placement of the wind tower is often a compromise. The A guidance system requests a fully redundant flight
tower has to be located close to the launcher, but the termination system (receiver, charge) and related
launcher itself might be “hidden” in a valley, or behind ground infrastructure (telemetry, telecommand, radar).
a sand dune, so that gusty or shear winds often are not The cost impact should not be underestimated. The
detected adequately. Radio sondes are not launched as break even point for such an investment depends on the
close as possible to lift-off, because most ranges lack an project and the selected launch range.
automatic release system. Of course, an improved wind weighting system will not
change the meteorological conditions at the launch or
1.2 VSB-30 Wind Sensitivity substitute a guidance system, but it widens the limits
such, that the launch probability increases.
To provide a practical example of the wind related
impact, the data for the VSB-30 sounding rocket vehicle 2. PROPOSED WIND WEIGHTING CONCEPT
are presented.
The VSB-30 sounding rocket vehicle was developed in A new wind weighting concept shall provide accurate
cooperation between the Brazilian Aerospace Institute wind measurements as close as possible to lift-off, using
(IAE) and MORABA. It reaches with a 400 kg payload actual atmospheric profiles, and allow “last minute”
an apogee of 250 km. corrections of the launcher settings.
The head, tail and lateral unit wind effect is calculated The realisation of the new wind weighting concept can
as 14 km/(m/s). This means that a 1-sigma ballistic wind be achieved with
uncertainty of 1 m/s causes an impact point deviation of o a 6-DOF real-time wind weighting program,
around 14 km! called Aeolus,
The tower tilt effect at high elevation angles is 35 km o Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV),
per degree. A typical 1-sigma launcher setting tolerance o Remote Launcher Control (RLC)
of 0.1 degree would result in a impact point shift of 1.8 The set-up is completed with the in-flight, GPS based
km. o Instantaneous Impact Point Prediction (IIP)
Taking all of the possible dispersion factors into The following sections describe the proposed concept in
account, the 1-sigma downrange dispersion radius is detail.
computed as 17 km.
2.1 Wind Weighting Program Aeolus

The 6-DOF real-time wind weighting program Aeolus

complies with the Electronic Code of Federal
Figure 1. VSB-30 Sounding Rocket Regulation [1]. The software offers a clear Go/No-Go
decision for launch flight safety. The software is based All range and mission related set-ups can be recorded
on MORABA’s Rocket Simulation (ROSI) mission and simulations with archived or weather forecast
proven program. profiles can be performed.
The program automatically guides the Flight Safety Aeolus can be changed to the present wind weighting
Officer through the countdown operations, e.g. it set-up for comparison.
provides him with the release sequences for the different The software is a significantly improvement as the AOA
types of radio sondes (high, medium and low altitude). can be computed accurately assuming that the wind
profiles are determined frequently with an adequate
resolution of 5-6 m/s.
Note that the presented figures represent only an extract
of the entire graphical windows available in Aeolus.

2.2 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Currently GPS equipped radio sondes or corner reflector

targets, are released to determine wind speed and
direction as close as possible to lift-off. [1] requires two
measurements within 30 minutes, up to an altitude
corresponding to 80% of the entire wind sensitivity
level, which means for a VSB-30 around 2 km above
The use of UAV as a measurement platform is a new
Figure 2. Go/No-Go Criteria
idea introduced by Astrium Space Transportation and
The program controls the limits for launch corridor,
Hand-launched, battery driven UAV’s offer real-time
ground, ballistic, shear winds and/or AOA.
wireless transmission of:
The GUI further comprises a timeline of each ground
o Position, wind direction and velocity from GPS
wind level, and ballistic wind variations.
o Air pressure, temperature, humidity
The impact prediction for all stages is shown as well as
o Video
the verification of the elevation and azimuth deviation,
The UAV has an autonomous navigation system which
once the final launcher adjustment is made.
can be programmed to follow the intended ascent flight
The wind stability analysis is computed by comparing
path of the launch vehicle. A second UAV could be
the results of the different sondes with respect to their
influence on impact dispersion. used to determine the wind profile during descent.
In-situ measurements of the meteorological data can be
used to improve the atmospheric model of the 6-DOF
program and to verify the stability of the weather
A video camera offers the possibility of surveying the
weather conditions in the impact area (fog or sufficient
snow). Furthermore the parachute descent and the drift
can be surveyed. Finally the UAV can be used to assist
counting the population in the impact area for risk
hazard analysis which is currently performed by
The maximum altitude is in the order of 5 km with an
airborne availability of several hours. A UAV can
replace the medium and low altitude radio sondes.
Last but not least, the system is reusable and the
Figure 3. Wind Stability Analysis and operational costs are cheaper than using “one way” GPS
Impact Point Variation sondes.

The program offers a high grade of mobility and 2.3 Remote Launcher Control
flexibility, meaning that the software can be connected
to a LAN and/or Serial I/O for anemometers and radio MORABA’s newly refurbished MAN 2 launcher can be
sondes independently. The number and position of the controlled remotely via internet or hard-line.
fixed anemometer levels can be adjusted manually. If the Remote Launcher Control (RLC) is combined
with the wind weighting program, this set-up allows
operating the launcher automatically via Flight Safety 3. CONCLUSION
strictly within fixed limits, but nearer to lift-off. The last
minute correction of the launcher settings minimizes the The improvement of the wind weighting set-up as
deviation of the impact point [2]. presented, allows the flight safety officer to enlarge the
limits within agreed standards, and consequently reduce
launch delays due to unfavourable wind conditions. The
suggested modifications have a minor cost impact and
can be implemented successively.

Figure 4. MAN 2 Launcher Control Display

2.4 Instantaneous Impact Point Prediction Figure 6. New Wind Weighting Concept

The on-board computed Instantaneous Impact Point It should be noted that, independent of the proposed
(IIP) prediction, developed and in use by DLR [3], system, the determination of the wind data as close as
provides real-time data of the vehicle as well as impact possible to lift-off, either by radio sondes, profilers,
prediction for both, guided and unguided vehicles. UAV or a combination of such, are the crucial criteria
Figure 5 shows the graphical interface, delivering for an accurate prediction. A last minute correction by
instantaneous information of vehicle position, heading RLC is convenient, but can also be achieved with a
and velocity, as well as IIP position and Estimated Time revision of the countdown activities between flight
to Impact (ETI). The validity of the information and the safety and blockhouse, acknowledging that the launch
satellites in view are given crew will not support remote control of their launcher
The program was initiated for the first launch of the by flight safety.
VSB-30 in 2004. The ballistic wind limits of the VSB-30, measured with
a conventional system are limited to around 6 m/s, while
the proposed changes, 6-DOF inclusive AOA
determination, would permit raising the limits to around
10 m/s. Comparing the flights in the past, this means
more than 25% of the countdown delays due to wind
could have been avoided!
The 6-DOF wind weighting program Aeolus will be
tested during the TEXUS 46/47 campaign in November
The test trials for UAV and RLC are foreseen in 2010.


1. Electronic Code of Federal Regulation, Title 14:

Aeronautics and Space, Part 14: Launch Safety,
2. Garcia A., Automatic Launcher Control, Master
Thesis, ITA, TBC
3. Montenbruck O. et al., GPS Based Prediction of the
Figure 5. IIP GUI Layout Instantaneous Impact Point for Sounding
Rockets, Aerospace Science and Technology 6,
283-294, 2002