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Robust multi-fidelity design of a micro re-entry unmanned space vehicle

Minisci, E and Vasile, M and Liqiang, H (2011) Robust multi-fidelity design of a micro re-entry unmanned space vehicle. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part G: Journal of Aerospace Engineering, 225 (11). pp. 1195-1209. ISSN 0954-4100

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Abstract

This article addresses the preliminary robust design of a small-scale re-entry unmanned space vehicle by means of a hybrid optimization technique. The approach, developed in this article, closely couples an evolutionary multi-objective algorithm with a direct transcription method for optimal control problems. The evolutionary part handles the shape parameters of the vehicle and the uncertain objective functions, while the direct transcription method generates an optimal control profile for the re-entry trajectory. Uncertainties on the aerodynamic forces and characteristics of the thermal protection material are incorporated into the vehicle model, and a Monte-Carlo sampling procedure is used to compute relevant statistical characteristics of the maximum heat flux and internal temperature. Then, the hybrid algorithm searches for geometries that minimize the mean value of the maximum heat flux, the mean value of the maximum internal temperature, and the weighted sum of their variance: the evolutionary part handles the shape parameters of the vehicle and the uncertain functions, while the direct transcription method generates the optimal control profile for the re-entry trajectory of each individual of the population. During the optimization process, artificial neural networks are utilized to approximate the aerodynamic forces required by the optimal control solver. The artificial neural networks are trained and updated by means of a multi-fidelity approach: initially a low-fidelity analytical model, fitted on a waverider type of vehicle, is used to train the neural networks, and through the evolution a mix of analytical and computational fluid dynamic, high-fidelity computations are used to update it. The data obtained by the high-fidelity model progressively become the main source of updates for the neural networks till, near the end of the optimization process, the influence of the data obtained by the analytical model is practically nullified. On the basis of preliminary results, the adopted technique is able to predict achievable performance of the small spacecraft and the requirements in terms of thermal protection materials.