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1. (WO2018224998) SYSTÈME ET PROCÉDÉ DE COMMANDE D'ATTITUDE ET D'AMPLIFICATION DE POUSSÉE POUR LANCEURS SPATIAUX
Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

CLAIMS

1. An attitude control and thrust boosting system (100) for a space launcher, wherein said space launcher is equipped with a rocket engine (303) provided with an exhaust nozzle (352); wherein said exhaust nozzle (352) comprises a divergent portion (302) configured to make a supersonic gas flow exit through an exit section defined by a given angle of divergence with respect to a longitudinal axis (AL) of the rocket engine; the attitude control and thrust boosting system (100) being characterized by comprising:

• a plurality of flaps (110,111,112,113) arranged around the exit section, shaped so as to extend the divergent portion of the exhaust nozzle, mechanically decoupled from said exhaust nozzle and which can be actuated to take different angular positions with respect to the longitudinal axis of the rocket engine; and

• control means (130) configured to

receive quantities indicative of an actual attitude of the space launcher and an ambient static pressure,

- cause the flaps (110,111,112,113) to take a neutral angular position where the flaps (110,111,112,113) are inclined, with respect to the longitudinal axis of the rocket engine, according to an inclination angle greater than, or equal to, the given angle of divergence, control the neutral angular position taken by the flaps (110,111,112,113) according to the ambient static pres sure, and make one or more flaps (110,111,112,113) take an angular position different than the neutral angular position according to the actual attitude of the space launcher e to a required attitude for said space launcher.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the control means (130) are so configured as to control the neutral angular position taken by the flaps (110,111,112,113) by reducing the inclination angle as the ambient static pressure decreases.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the control means (130) are configured to:

• reduce the inclination angle as the ambient static pressure decreases up to make said inclination angle match the given angle of divergence,

• then, keep said inclination angle equal to the given angle of divergence independently of the ambient static pressure.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein the control means (130) are configured to: · if the ambient static pressure is greater than a preset threshold, decrease the inclination angle determining, for each new current value of the ambient static pressure, a corresponding current value of the inclination angle so as not to produce over-expansion of the supersonic flow;

• if the ambient static pressure corresponds to the preset threshold, make the inclination angle match the given angle of divergence;

• then, keep said inclination angle equal to the given angle of divergence independently of the ambient static pressure.

5. The system of any one of the previous claims, wherein the control means (130) are configured to make a flap (110,111, 112, 113) take an angular position different than the neutral angular position:

• by comparing the actual attitude of the space launcher and the required attitude for said space launcher; and,

• in case the actual attitude differs from the required attitude,

- by determining, based on said actual attitude and said required attitude, an angular position where said flap (110,111, 112,113) deflects the supersonic gas flow exiting from the exit section so as to bring the actual attitude towards the required attitude and

by making said flap (110, 111,112, 113) take the given angular position.

6. The system of any one of the previous claims, wherein the control means (130) are connected to:

• an inertial platform (201) installed on the space launcher and configured to detect the actual attitude of said space launcher; and

• a pressure sensing device (202) installed on the space launcher and configured to measure the ambient static pressure.

7. The system of any one of the previous claims, wherein the control means (130) are configured to determine, to receive or to store one or more quantities indicative of the required attitude of the space launcher.

8. The system of any one of the previous claims, wherein the flaps (110,111, 112,113) are hinged to a support structure (140) that is constrained to an outer structure (301) of the space launcher, is arranged at the exit section and extends around said exit section; and wherein said flaps (110,11 1,112, 113) are hinged to said support structure (140) so that they can be actuated in order to take different angular positions with respect to the longitudinal axis of the rocket engine.

9. The system of claim 8, further comprising a plurality of inter- flap panels (160), each of which is hinged to the support structure (140) at a gap between two respective adjacent flaps (110,111, 112,113) and is designed to remain always in contact with at least one of said respective adjacent flaps (110, 111,112, 113).

10. The system of any one of the previous claims, further comprising a plurality of actuators (120) that are:

· fixed to an outer structure (301) of the space launcher;

• coupled to the flaps (1 10,111, 112,113) and operable to make said flaps (110,111, 112,113) take different angular positions with respect to the longitudinal axis of the rocket engine; and

• connected to the control means (130) to be actuated by said control means (130).

11. The system of any one of the previous claims, wherein the exit section lies on a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the rocket engine, and wherein said longitudinal axis of the rocket engine is a central axis of symmetry of the exhaust nozzle and of the rocket engine.

12. A space launcher equipped with a rocket engine provided with an exhaust

nozzle; wherein said exhaust nozzle (352) comprises a divergent portion (302) configured to make a supersonic gas flow exit through an exit section defined by a given angle of divergence with respect to a longitudinal axis of the rocket engine; said space launcher being equipped with the attitude control and thrust boosting system (100) as claimed in any one of the previous claims.

13. A stage of a multi-stage space launcher, wherein said stage is equipped with a rocket engine (303) provided with an exhaust nozzle (352); wherein said exhaust nozzle (352) comprises a divergent portion (302) configured to make a supersonic gas flow exit through an exit section defined by a given angle of divergence with respect to a longitudinal axis of the rocket engine; said stage being equipped with the attitude control and thrust boosting system (100) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 11.

14. An attitude control and thrust boosting method (100) for a space launcher equipped with a rocket engine provided with an exhaust nozzle having a divergent portion (302) configured to make a supersonic gas flow exit through an exit section thereof defined by a given angle of divergence with respect to a longitudinal axis of the rocket engine; the method comprising the following steps:

- receiving quantities indicative of an actual attitude of the space launcher and of an ambient static pressure,

- making a plurality of flaps (110, 111,112, 113), arranged around the exit section of the nozzle and shaped so as to extend the divergent portion of the nozzle, take a neutral angular position, where the flaps (110, 111, 112,113) are inclined, with respect to the longitudinal axis of the rocket engine, according to an inclination angle equal to, or greater than, the given angle of divergence,

- controlling the neutral angular position taken by the flaps (110, 111,1 12,113) according to the ambient static pressure.

15. The method of claim 14, further comprising the step of making one or more flaps (110, 111,112, 113) take an angular position different than the neutral angular position according to the actual attitude of the space launcher and to a required attitude of said space launcher.

16. The method of claim 14 or 15, comprising the step of reducing the inclination angle of the flaps (111,112, 113) as the ambient static pressure decreases.

17. The method of claim 16, comprising the steps of:

- reducing the inclination angle of the flaps (11, 112, 113) as the ambient static pressure decreases up to make said inclination angle match the given angle of divergence,

- then, keeping said inclination angle equal to the given angle of divergence independently of the ambient static pressure.

18. The method of claim 17, comprising the steps of:

- if the ambient static pressure is greater than a preset threshold, decreasing the inclination angle determining, for each new current value of the ambient static pressure, a corresponding current value of the inclination angle so as not to produce over-expansion of the supersonic flow;

- if the ambient static pressure corresponds to the preset threshold, making the inclination angle match the given angle of divergence;

- then, keeping said inclination angle equal to the given angle of divergence independently of the ambient static pressure.

19. The method of any one of claims 14 to 18, comprising the steps of:

comparing an actual attitude of the space launcher and a required attitude for said space launcher; and,

· in case the actual attitude differs from the required attitude,

- determining, based on said actual attitude and said required attitude, an angular position where at least one of said flaps (110,111, 112,113) deflects the supersonic gas flow exiting from the exit section so as to bring the actual attitude towards the required attitude and

- making said flap (110,11 1,112, 113) take the given angular position.

20. A thrust device for a space launcher, comprising:

- an exhaust nozzle (352) having a divergent portion (302) able to make a supersonic gas flow exit through an exit section defined by a given angle of divergence with respect to a longitudinal axis of the exhaust nozzle;

- a plurality of flaps (110, 111,112, 113), arranged around the exit section; wherein said flaps are shaped so as to extend the divergent portion of the exhaust nozzle, are mechanically decoupled from said exhaust nozzle and are operable to take different angular positions with respect to the longitudinal axis of the exhaust nozzle;

wherein the flaps (110, 111, 112,113) are hinged to a support structure (140), configured to be constrained to an outer structure (301) of the space launcher; wherein the support structure (140) is provided at the exit section of the exhaust nozzle and extends around said exit section; wherein said flaps (110,111 ,112, 113) are hinged to the support structure (140) so that they can be actuated in order to take different angular positions with respect to the longitudinal axis of the exhaust nozzle; and wherein each flap (110,111, 112,113) is associated with a respective actuator (120).

21. The device of claim 20, wherein the flaps are arranged aligned with one another on a single level without overlapping one another, forming a gap between each pair of adjacent flaps.

22. The device of claim 21, further comprising a plurality of inter-flap panels

(160), each of which is hinged to the support structure (140) at a gap between two respective flaps (110, 11 1,112, 113) and is passively biased so as to remain in contact with at least one of the respective flaps (110,11 1,112, 113) between which said gap is formed.

23. The device of claim 22, further comprising a resilient pre-load member for each inter-flap panel (160), adapted to push the inter-flap panel (160) to rest on at least one of the adjacent flaps.

24. The device of one or more of claims 20 to 23, wherein the exhaust nozzle and the flaps (111, 112, 113) are arranged so that, in at least some angular positions of the flaps (111, 112, 113) between a trailing edge (358) of the divergent portion (302) of the exhaust nozzle (352) and a leading edge (354) of each flap (110; 11 1, 112, 113) a gap (360) is formed which places an inner volume defined by the exhaust nozzle and the flaps in communication with a space outside the nozzle and the flaps, said gap being so configured that in at least one angular position of the flaps the flow of gas exhausted from the nozzle generates suction of outer air.

25. A computer product comprising at least one portion of a code that can be uploaded onto processing means of an attitude control and thrust boosting system (100) installed on a space launcher; wherein said portion of code is such that, when uploaded onto the processing means, said processing means become configured as the control means (130) of the attitude control and thrust boosting system (100) according to any one of claims 1 to 11.