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International Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 182907, 17 pages
Research Article

Parachute-Payload System Flight Dynamics and Trajectory Simulation

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Aerospaziale, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino, Italy

Received 15 November 2011; Revised 2 February 2012; Accepted 14 March 2012

Academic Editor: C. B. Allen

Copyright © 2012 Giorgio Guglieri. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The work traces a general procedure for the design of a flight simulation tool still representative of the major flight physics of a parachute-payload system along decelerated trajectories. An example of limited complexity simulation models for a payload decelerated by one or more parachutes is given, including details and implementation features usually omitted as the focus of the research in this field is typically on the investigation of mission design issues, rather than addressing general implementation guidelines for the development of a reconfigurable simulation tool. The dynamics of the system are modeled through a simple multibody model that represents the expected behavior of an entry vehicle during the terminal deceleration phase. The simulators are designed according to a comprehensive vision that enforces the simplification of the coupling mechanism between the payload and the parachute, with an adequate level of physical insight still available. The results presented for a realistic case study define the sensitivity of the simulation outputs to the functional complexity of the mathematical model. Far from being an absolute address for the software designer, this paper tries to contribute to the area of interest with some technical considerations and clarifications.