High-Fidelity Dynamics Modelling for the Design of a High-Altitude Supersonic Sounding Rocket

Benjamin Milne, Sean Samson, Robert Carrese, Alessandro Gardi, Roberto Sabatini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The accurate modelling and simulation of vehicle dynamics is a fundamental prerequisite for the design and experimental flight testing of aerospace vehicles. In the case of high-altitude supersonic sounding rockets, it is critically important to produce realistic trajectory predictions in a representative range of operational and environmental conditions as well as to produce reliable probability distributions of terminal locations. This article proposes a methodology to develop high-fidelity flight dynamics models that accurately capture aeroelastic, turbulence, atmospheric and other effects relevant to sounding rockets. The significance of establishing a high-fidelity model and of addressing such a problem in the context of developing a digital twin are discussed upfront, together with the key tools utilised in the analysis. In addition to state-of-the-art computational methods to determine the aerodynamic forces, moments and mass changes in various flight regimes (including parachute release), a detailed methodology for incorporating the dynamic aeroelastic response of the rocket is presented. The validity of the proposed method is demonstrated through a simulation case study, which utilises data from an existing rocket prototype. Results corroborate the correct implementation of the proposed algorithms and provide foundations for future research on virtual sensing and digital twin for autonomous navigation and guidance.

Original languageBritish English
Article number32
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • aerodynamics
  • aeroelasticity
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • computational structural mechanics
  • digital twin
  • flight dynamics
  • multi-physics
  • rocket design
  • rocket dynamics
  • sounding rocket
  • virtual prototyping


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