HEDGE: Hypersonic ReEntry Deployable Glider Experiment; Making Spaceflight for Everyone: Advancements in Commercial Human Spaceflight

Johnson, James, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Elliott, S. Travis, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Goyne, Chris, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The technical portion of the thesis aimed to answer the following question: how can a hypersonic glider flight experiment fit in a CubeSat platform? Hypersonic flight occurs at speeds exceeding five time the speed of sound and is an expanding research field in the aerospace industry with military and civil applications. Military applications include hypersonic missiles, both offensive and defensive, and high-speed aircraft. Civil applications include access to space and commercial air travel. A CubeSat is a small satellite flown in low earth orbit that is well suited for undergraduate education. Hypersonic glider flight experiments are difficult to replicate in wind tunnels and expensive to achieve on rockets and aircrafts. By using a CubeSat, university students are able to conduct these experiments at a lower cost, and with greater accessibility.

The STS research portion of the thesis is aimed to answer the following question: how are space enterprises striving to make commercial human spaceflight more accessible? Human spaceflight became a reality as a result of the Space Race between the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War. This competition to achieve the best spaceflight capacity skyrocketed the ability for private companies to develop their own space industry. Through researching different space enterprises' motivations for sending more humans to space, three main goals were identified: scientific research, exploration and colonization, and space tourism. The paper looks at what different American commercial space companies are doing to send more humans to space specifically for those goals. The Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) STS framework was used to show how society's desire to pursue each of these goals results in commercial space companies developing new technologies. The discussion section outlines how the three goals identified all ultimately work together and it is argued that each goal will be achieved more quickly if they are all pursued at the same time by different companies as opposed to all space enterprises focusing on one of those goals at a time.

Both the technical and STS topics connect together by answering the following general research question: how can outer space be reached by more people? The technical project shows how university students can realistically work on a project that will one day be sent into space. The STS portion shows how much the human spaceflight industry is expanding. It identifies how private companies are striving to send more humans to space along with their different motivations behind this goal.

In order to carry out the technical portion, the team developed a conceptual design review for their proposed CubeSat hypersonic glider flight experiment. The team utilized the Space Mission Engineering process of going from broad mission objectives or a vague concept to an operational mission. The team developed primary and secondary objectives, identified the mission architecture, outlined the mission concept, developed functional and operational requirements and system constraints, proposed a tentative schedule for the construction and fabrication of the design, and estimated the total cost of the mission. The team consisted of 15 aerospace and mechanical undergraduates. The members were divided into six sub teams: Project Management, Communications, Software and Avionics, Power, Thermal and Environment, Attitude Determination and Control Systems (ADACS) and Orbits, and Structures and Integration. The project manager oversaw the mission and made sure the technical sub teams were supported and on track. The five technical sub teams each developed subsystem level requirements and focused on their specific aspects of the CubeSat design. The final design consisted of a 3U CubeSat with hinges that allows it to transform into a cone-cube shape when re-entering the atmosphere to prolong hypersonic flight. The final technical report was in the form of a proposal to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) for funding to carry out the rest of the project.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
CubeSat, Hypersonic Flight, Commercial Human Spaceflight, Aerospace Engineering, SCOT
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