HyperSizer Customer Paper

"GTX Reference Vehicle Structural Verification Methods and Weight Summary" (18 pages)


Hunter, J. E., McCurdy, D. R., and Dunn, P. W


The design of a single-stage-to-orbit air breathing propulsion system requires the simultaneous development of a reference launch vehicle in order to achieve the optimal mission performance. Accordingly, for the GTX study a 300-lb payload reference vehicle was preliminarily sized to a gross liftoff weight (GLOW) of 238,000 lb. A finite element model of the integrated vehicle/propulsion system was subjected to the trajectory environment and subsequently optimized for structural efficiency. This study involved the development of aerodynamic loads mapped to finite element models of the integrated system in order to assess vehicle margins of safety. Commercially available analysis codes were used in the process along with some internally developed spreadsheets and FORTRAN codes specific to the GTX geometry for mapping of thermal and pressure loads. A mass fraction of 0.20 for the integrated system dry weight has been the driver for a vehicle design consisting of state-of-the-art composite materials in order to meet the rigid weight requirements. This paper summarizes the methodology used for preliminary analyses and presents the current status of the weight optimization for the structural components of the integrated system.