Shock-Induced Flow Separation and the Orbiter Thermal Protection System,
ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL DOWNEY CA SHUTTLE ORBITER AND INTEGRATION DIV
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The concept of the Space Shuttle orbiters thermal protection system TPS is based on reusable tiles of various shapes and sizes, but none exceeding 8 inches. The tiles are top-coated, but the sides edges are not thermally protected and are susceptible to damage from aerothermodynamic heating. Such a problem occurs when large air-mass flows, created by local pressure gradients, circulate into the tile gaps. A typical problem is a pressure gradient created during entry by body flap detection. After a brief description of how the problem affects the Space Shuttle orbiter, a theoretical and experimental review of the phenomenon in which the major parameters involved in gap heating are discriminated and analyzed.