This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Launch Vehicle Performance Enhancement Using Aerodynamic Assist




McDavid, Brian

Type of Degree



Aerospace Engineering


A complete preliminary design model of a three-stage solid-fuel launch vehicle has been combined with a genetic algorithm to perform an optimization study with the goal to enhance performance using aerodynamic assist. Three studies have been completed which include improving the suborbital and orbital flights of a modern intercontinental ballistic missile and improving on the orbital flight of a generic three-stage launch vehicle. The performance is enhanced by varying the geometric definition of the attached wing structure and the internal propellant geometry while the external geometry remains constant. Initial system weights and propellant mass fractions were found to decrease with the addition of the wing structure. Further enhancement involves a payload increase by 10% with a negligible increase in system weight, and a propellant mass decrease by 5.2% without impairing the flight performance.