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Simulation Testbed for Entry Analysis and Design (STEAD)
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The simulation of a spacecraft in an accurately modeled environment gives engineers and researchers important data on the feasibility of designs. The Simulation Testbed for Entry Analysis and Design (STEAD) is a modular simulation analysis tool for entry vehicles, capable of testing any spacecraft on any planetary body. Although there are existing software packages in use to perform these simulations, STEAD is structured to reduce the workload for the user to generate new environments for each simulation and provide a starting point from which to build, test, and analyze systems. STEAD is built on the SpaceCRAFT platform, allowing the user to connect new models and simulate engineering designs in a virtual reality (VR) environment. Although SpaceCRAFT can be used for many different space mission scenarios, this thesis focuses on the simulation and analysis of a lifting body entry vehicle. The integration of existing environmental models, such as NASA GRAMs and JPL SPICE, provide an accurate simulation environment for STEAD. Additionally, the first iteration of a generic atmospheric model was developed to accurately simulate the physical processes on any planetary body. The thesis adds functionality to the core SpaceCRAFT platform through the implementation of a dynamics propagation system and creation of interfaces for MATLAB and FORTRAN mathematical models. To demonstrate a use case for the software, STEAD was used to simulated the trajectory of a test vehicle using guidance commands provided by both an open-loop and closed-loop algorithm based on the Theory of Connections. The simulation tool was used to analyse the performance of the real-time guidance algorithm in an accurately modeled environment that provided realistic perturbations, such as density variation and wind speeds.
Holub, Matthew James (2019). Simulation Testbed for Entry Analysis and Design (STEAD). Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from