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International Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 1678709, 16 pages
Research Article

Design Methodology and Performance Evaluation of New Generation Sounding Rockets

University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Via Salaria 851/831, 00138 Rome, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Marco Pallone

Received 24 March 2017; Accepted 25 September 2017; Published 6 February 2018

Academic Editor: Corin Segal

Copyright © 2018 Marco Pallone et al. 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.


Sounding rockets are currently deployed for the purpose of providing experimental data of the upper atmosphere, as well as for microgravity experiments. This work provides a methodology in order to design, model, and evaluate the performance of new sounding rockets. A general configuration composed of a rocket with four canards and four tail wings is sized and optimized, assuming different payload masses and microgravity durations. The aerodynamic forces are modeled with high fidelity using the interpolation of available data. Three different guidance algorithms are used for the trajectory integration: constant attitude, near radial, and sun-pointing. The sun-pointing guidance is used to obtain the best microgravity performance while maintaining a specified attitude with respect to the sun, allowing for experiments which are temperature sensitive. Near radial guidance has instead the main purpose of reaching high altitudes, thus maximizing the microgravity duration. The results prove that the methodology at hand is straightforward to implement and capable of providing satisfactory performance in term of microgravity duration.