Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Ronald Simmons, PhD


Reusable launch vehicles have many benefits over their expendable counterparts. These benefits range from cost reductions to increased functionality of the vehicles. Further research is required in the development of the technology necessary for reusable launch vehicles to come to fruition. The Air Force Institute of Technology’s future involvement in the ExFIT program will entail designing and testing of a new wing tip mounted vertical stabilizer in the hypersonic regime. One proposed venue for experimentation is to utilize the United States Air Force Academy’s FalconLAUNCH Program which annually designs, builds, and launches a sounding rocket capable of reaching hypersonic speeds. In the Spring of 2010 an experimental wing geometry will be flown on FalconLAUNCH VIII for the ExFIT Program. The following study outlines the Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis used to determine lift and drag characteristics as well as temperature distributions of the wing geometry before testing to produce a successful launch. A majority of this analysis focused on the effects caused by shock waves forming on the winglet and their impact on the lifting characteristics and temperature distribution of the wing. Ultimately a recommendation of a 3˚ angle of attack is given for the experimental wings on the rocket. At this configuration the lift and drag generated by the experimental wings will be at a minimum allowing for greater stability and speed throughout the flight of the rocket.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number