Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Space shuttles--Aerodynamics


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Space Shuttle Orbiter’s high Mach number/low Reynolds number (aka viscous interaction/real gas) aerodynamics were developed based on various research studies. Four wind tunnels and a three-dimensional digital computer program developed the perfect gas aerodynamic characteristics, then correlated to single curves by the viscous parameter. A rapid and accurate analytical method for calculating the pressure distribution on blunt bodies in a uniform stream and real gas aerodynamic estimations were derived by solving the energy equation behind the shock. The gas was assumed to be perfect, the flow steady and inviscid, and the ratio of specific heat varied with velocity and altitude. The principal finding showed that viscous interaction increased axial force meaningfully, and real gas induced a nose-up pitching moment due to a change in pressure distribution. The body flap had to be deflected over twice the wind tunnel deflections to maintain trim.



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