TRAnspiration Cooling Experiment


Transpiration cooling

• Blowing out cooling gas from a porous surface
• Effective cooling of the boundary layer
• So far only tested in wind tunnel tests and simulations
• Inexpensive and suitable for quick reuse
• Not yet used for heat shields
• Validation in the flight test is a crucial step towards deployment in future    applications


Since August 2020, the TRACE team has been growing steadily and now has 14 members. The team is divided into 3 workgroups, the Mechanical Work Group, the Simulation Work Group and the Electronics Work Group. The team will continue to grow in the future in order to be able to cover all project tasks. This is also done in cooperation with institutes of the RWTH Aachen and the DLR. Two bachelor theses and one project thesis have already been successfully integrated into the project and further student theses are already planned in cooperation with SWL and DLR.

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The goal of the mission is to test transpirational cooling systems with the high velocity during re-entry. For this purpose, the free-flight experiment is separated from the REXUS rocket at an altitude of between 70 and 90km
and then flies back to Earth independently. It uses its shape for passive aerodynamic stabilization during entry into the lower atmosphere and reaches a speed of up to Mach 3.5. At an altitude between 30 and 10km,
this leads to a strong heating of the outer shell. Part of the surface is augmented with new transpirational cooling elements. Thus, a comparison with reference surfaces will be possible and the effectiveness of the new
cooling concept can be measured. At an altitude of about 10km, the parachute sequence will then be activated.


Heatshields of the future!

Heat shields are an essential part of current spacecraft designs if landing on a planet or a safe return to Earth is planned. State of the art heat protection systems are designed for one-time use or require complex maintenance cycles for multiple use. A promising concept for future heat shields is transpiration cooling. Their cooling effect is based on injecting a cooling gas at the surface of the structure to reduce thermal loads. While similar film cooling concepts are already used in rocket and jet engines, transpiration cooling elements have not been used for spacecraft heat shield systems. TRACE now aims to be the first to test and validate transpiration cooling on a reentry vehicle in a flight experiment.


TRACE will be Spaceteam-Aachen's second experiment under the REXUS program after IMFEX and our team's first free-flight experiment. The REXUS program, as well as its sister program BEXUS, allow students of European universities to perform experiments on research rockets and balloons. The rockets carry three student experiments with up to 40kg payload to an altitude of 90km. TRACE is planned as an ejection experiment under the rocket's nosecone and will return to earth on its own, separated from the rocket.