The results of accurate compressible Navier-Stokes simulations of aerodynamic heating of the Vega launcher are presented. Three selected steady conditions of the Vega mission profile are considered: the first corresponding to the altitude of 18 km, the second to 25 km and the last to 33 km. The numerical code is based on the Favre–Average Navier–Stokes equations; the turbulent model chosen for closure is the one-equation model by Spalart–Allmaras. The equations are discretized by a finite volume approach, that can handle block-structured meshes with partial overlap (“Chimera” grid-overlapping technique). The isothermal boundary condition has been applied to the lancher wall. Particular care was devoted to the construction of the discrete model; indeed, the launcher is equipped with many protrusions and geometrical peculiarities (as antennas, raceways, inter-stage connection flanges and retrorockets) that are expected to affect considerably the local thermal flow-field and the level of heat fluxes, because the flow have to undergo strong variation in space; consequently, special attention was devoted to the definition of a tailored mesh, capable of catching local details of the aerothermal flow field (shocks, expansion fans, boundary layer, etc..). The computed results are reported together with uncertainty and actual convergence order, that were estimated by the standard procedures suggested by AIAA.
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