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UTA Researcher’s Book Explores the Design of Long-Range Space Vehicles

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Future Spacecraft Propulsion Systems and Integration: Enabling Technologies for Space ExplorationTravel throughout the solar system and beyond has been a goal of engineers, scientists, and science fiction fans since space flight first became a reality in 1957. Since then, humans are no closer to the limits of our solar system via manned space flight than at the beginning of the space age.

Bernd Chudoba, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington, teaches aircraft and space launch vehicle design and has spent years studying how to make long-range space travel possible.

His research and collaboration with flight vehicle design pioneer Paul A. Czysz led to his addition as an author for the third edition of Czysz’s book titled: “Future Spacecraft Propulsion Systems and Integration: Enabling Technologies for Space Exploration,” which will release on Springer and Amazon on Oct. 8.

Czysz, who died in 2013, is credited with the development of a pragmatic system-level propulsion and aerospace design methodology. Claudio Bruno, a research scientist at the University of Connecticut, is Chudoba’s co-author.

“Future space flight requires advancing the understanding of propulsion, gravity and inertia. The first is primarily an engineering domain and is hardware-driven, while the remaining two are the domain of physics,” Chudoba said.

“As much as we would like to show how to travel in galactic space, that would require breakthroughs in physics, not just propulsion, so until those breakthroughs happen we will have to be content to explore our own solar system.”

The book presents a pragmatic design and forecasting approach to creating vehicle-propulsion integrated transportation systems and required technologies that will allow humans to travel faster and farther. To accomplish this, it introduces a best-practice multi-disciplinary artificial intelligence forecasting methodology which can efficiently select the correct vehicle and propulsion hardware combination and associated technologies to meet the initial specifications for mission and operational characteristics.

According to Chudoba, traveling to outer space in the near future is a multi-step process in which the vehicle plays a critical role. First, a routine, reusable two-way transport to and from low-Earth orbit must be established to develop a first of its kind LEO space infrastructure. Next, the vehicle must facilitate transportation toward commercialization and sustained operation of our Moon as our natural satellite. Finally, the vehicle must achieve escape speed, which allows it to move away from the gravitational control of the Earth to explore Mars and the Solar System. Due to the vast distances of space, the choice of propulsion system dictates the achievable transfer speeds and practical crew mission durations.

The book quantifies mission-hardware-operation scenarios by deriving and utilizing a best-practice holistic parametric sizing approach sought after by vehicle designers, technology forecasters and strategic planners.

The research and book further UTA’s Strategic Plan Bold Solutions | Global Impact, especially in the data-driven discovery theme, a key tenet of that strategic plan.