The spacecraft sector is one of the most dynamic and challenging sectors within the aerospace industry. Government and private industry are working to put men and material into space for research, defense and commercial opportunities. With so much at stake, and sometimes only one chance to achieve it, engineers are working to design vehicles and fuels that will push space exploration further, faster and more efficiently.

Weight is one of the biggest challenge designers face, with the goal of allocating more weight to the payload and less to the launch vehicle. ANSYS software offers designers more capabilities to model extreme conditions. Comprehensive and coupled multiphysics capabilities enable virtual prototypes to account for fluid–structure interactions, such as satellite folded solar panels in environmentally controlled payload compartments and thermal stresses in heat shields, turbine blades and other components subjected to extreme temperature changes.

Testing for extreme conditions in space calls for simulation software that is robust and reliable. For example, determining how a space vehicle will react to a Mach-25 re-entry requires simulation software that accurately reproduces conditions at correct scales. Furthermore, the engineering team needs to know how mixtures of cryogenic fuels and oxidizers will mix and react in the combustion chamber of a rocket engine. ANSYS solutions allow engineers to predict how those fluids will react on earth and in space.

Thermal analysis of moon rover
Courtesy Astrobotic Technology Inc.

Safety is always top of mind. Manned or unmanned, flights need to lift off and return to earth safely, and testing how reliably a vehicle will survive the rigors of space requires virtual prototypes to avoid expensive physical testing. There is usually no second chance to get it right.