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Development of a Scilab tool for the mechanical pre-sizing of launcher structures, a first step towards a multi-tool platform for the preliminary design of space launchers

By Frédéric Pauliac, Astrium

In the context of the preparation of the next generation of European space launchers, Astrium has started a program to improve its preliminary design software environment. This will allow Astrium to keep its edge in an increasingly competitive environment. The aim is twofold: to improve the quality of the results given to the client and to reduce the time frame required to produce these results. From the company point of view, the direct benefit from such an effort will be the improvement of the internal transmission of information and a better capitalisation of the acquired experience, both are obviously highly desirable. 

To meet this purpose, the Launcher Mechanical Design Office is working on the development of a software platform organized around three interconnected tools, all developed according to the same logic. One will be used to conceive launcher architectures; one will calculate loads and the third will enable the pre-sizing of launcher structures.

A first version of the pre-sizing tool has been validated and is now operational. This tool has been done with Scilab. A prototype of Graphic User Interface (GUI) has also been done with the assistance of Scilab Enterprises. In the coming month, Scilab Enterprises will also be asked to participate to the industrialisation of this tool. In the meantime, Astrium will keep working on additional calculation modules. 

Work on the two other tools is also on-going. The load calculation software will mainly be an adaptation and a migration of an existing code to Scilab. As for the architecture conception tool, it will be a very graphical tool which will also make it possible to exchange information with the two previously described tools. More importantly it will have to handle a data model arranged into an arborescence that is generic and adaptable enough to represent all the launchers that Astrium has to study. The elaboration of the tool specifications and its in-house prototyping has started and Scilab Enterprises will soon be asked to participate.