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De-risk assessment: Development of a High-Speed, High Accuracy, Multi-Physics Propagator

Tue, 11/28/2023 - 02:00
Start Date: 
End Date: 
Programme Reference: 
United Kingdom
Prime Contractor: 

The increasing number of satellite launches, and the need to maintain compliance with international guidelines, coupled with the pursuit of designfor demise solutions requires higher accuracy in the ground casualty risk assessment. Increasing ‘democratization’ of space means launches are no longer constrained to traditional large satellite integrator with ready access to tools.

Objectives are to establish the requirements for a new high-speed, high-accuracy, multi-physics propagator focused on design for demise, demonstrate weaknesses in the physics in the current generation of tools and show a route to improvement and to create a prototype graphical user interface to gain rapid feedback on the look and feel of any potential new improvements.


This de-risk activity has successfully demonstrated that the use of the component level length scales over compound length scales in the calculation of heating rates can lead to a significant over-prediction in component temperatures. This in turn could result in prediction of breakup at a higher altitude or even a breakup when there is none, which could have a significant impact on the ground casualty risk, meaning that the current generation of tools may be under-predicting the ground casualty risk. A working prototype graphical user interface has been created which enables the consortium to begin testing user interactions and workflows to ensure that any future propagator is easy to use and efficient.

An improved understanding of the design for demise toolset landscape and identification of relevant needs to drive international understanding and progress towards the goals of clean space and safe de-orbit. An improved understanding of the heating rate prediction errors in the current generation of tools will improve predictions making de-orbit safer.

Next steps will be to undertake additional research: to extend the proposed length scale merging model to a wider selection of shapes, further improve physical submodels, further improve how risk modelling is undertaken, and evaluate these effects on the resultant ground casualty risk. Further to undertake a programme of wind tunnel experimental runs to provide verification and validation data and revise the proposed models as appropriate.

Application Domain: 
Generic Technologies
Competence Domain: 
7-Propulsion, Space Transportation and Re-entry Vehicles
Initial TRL: 
Target TRL: 
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