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Professor Wins Tennessee AIAA Section Award

The local Tennessee American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) section recently held its 2008 awards ceremony at the Arnold Lakeside Club. Awards presented included the Hap Arnold award, two Billy J. Griffith awards, a special award and the AIAA Booster award.

The General Henry H “Hap” Arnold Award, the most prestigious award offered by the section, was given to Prof. Gary Flandro of University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) for his work in combustion instability. After 40 years of research, he is credited with creating a revolutionary engineering tool, the Universal Combustion Device Stability (UCDS) process.

During early 2008, Dr. Flandro and the Gloyer Taylor Labs team applied the UCDS tool to solve a critical issue with NASA’s Ares I booster. As has been widely publicized, there is a serious thrust oscillation issue with the Ares I vehicle, which would produce vibration loads in the crew capsule sufficient to injure the crew.

Dr. Flandro and his team performed a sensitivity analysis on the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor-Five design, which identified the motor parameter that was most effective at reducing the amplitude of the thrust oscillations and identified an unexpected and relatively simple means to eliminate the thrust oscillations.

Based on this collective effort, NASA has altered their plans to address the thrust oscillation issue. The agency is now considering the recommended modification to the motor design as a potential solution for the thrust oscillation issue.