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Fundamental technology for spacecraft

Leading the Future Aviation Industry with Core Next-Generation Technologies

Aviation

Development of cutting-edge aircraft for the advancement of the aviation industry

The aviation industry is technology-led and technology-competitive based on technology integration and industry applying cutting-edge technologies such as computers, precision machinery, communications electronics, and new materials, wielding a large ripple effect on other industries. KARI focuses on improving the technology level and building the foundation for independent technology development to facilitate the development of the high-value-added aviation industry. KARI successfully developed the Bandi, a small four-seater aircraft with domestic technology and 18 core components for civil and military use as to be applied to the Korean Helicopter Program (KHP) for helicopter technology independence. That made Korea the 11th country in the world to develop helicopters. Related technologies were also derived for the development of military and civil helicopters. KARI signed the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) with the United States to enter overseas markets for aviation technology and developed the small aircraft (KC-100) certified for international aviation safety.

Development of personal aircraft for eco-friendly, high-efficiency aviation technology and transportation innovation

The competition to develop eco-friendly, high-efficiency aviation technologies and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to enhance the economy, safety, and efficiency of aircraft has heated up recently. Although UAVs were initially developed for military use, their applications have recently expanded to private sectors such as science and technology, transportation, communication, logistics, rescue, aerial photography, and agriculture, and they are expected to lead the aviation industry’s growth and market in the future. According to aerospace and defense consulting company Teal group, the UAV market size is expected to grow to USD 12.5 billion by 2023, USD 880 million of which will be for civil use, to show a high annual average growth of 35%. Since UAV is the convergence system of aviation technology and IT, it is ideal for Korea. Currently considered to have the world’s top 7 UAV technical competitiveness, Korea aims to rank among the top 5 UAV industrial countries by 2023 and among the top 3 by 2027. KARI is developing a personal air vehicle (PAV) that will bring transportation innovation in the future through the convergence of advanced UAVs, aviation technology, and information and communication technology (ICT) that can penetrate the global UAV niche markets. Beginning with the Durumi, a small endurance UAV, KARI developed a medium-sized aerostat system and an LTA (Lighter Than Air) aircraft system with long endurance. It also developed the world's second smart UAV, a tiltrotor capable of both vertical takeoff/landing and high-speed flight. Since then, the institute has transferred the smart UAV technologies to industries, and it plans to develop various derivative technologies such as automatic shipboard takeoff/landing technology, tilt duct UAV, and quad tilt-prop (QTP) UAV to be used for the commercialization of tiltrotor UAV, future aircraft, and next-generation flight vehicles. KARI has also developed an electrical aerial vehicle (EAV), a solar-powered UAV that can stay in the stratosphere for a long time, and various types of disaster relief UAVs that can protect public safety and respond to disasters and accidents. Currently, KARI is developing future advanced core technologies for unmanned vehicles to identify innovative unmanned vehicles such as autonomous vehicles and autonomous ships and develop original technologies. Moreover, KARI is developing the core technologies for the optionally piloted personal air vehicle (OPPAV) that will bring new air traffic innovations, the unmanned aerial system traffic management (UTM) system for the safe and efficient flight of UAVs, and the small UAV certification technology to broaden the use of UAVs in the private sector. Its R&D program also includes the UAV collision avoidance system that automatically determines the risk of aerial collision and avoids it.

Fundamental technology for spacecraft

Updates : 2021.06.25
The unmanned spacecraft is a rocket that is launched into low Earth orbit. The reusable spacecraft performs missions such as ground observation while flying in orbit and lands by gliding to the ground like an airplane. KARI selected the study of spacecraft's shape and fundamental technology as a research project in 2019, and it had been carrying out research on the basic technology of unmanned space aircraft for three years. Research on fundamental technology for space aircraft is being conducted in five programs. They include: space aircraft aerodynamic analysis and shape optimization; heat-resistant material for spacecraft earth reentry heat shield system; fundamental technology of optimization design frame for navigation guidance control system for reentry vehicle; wind tunnel test of heat protection system plasma for spacecraft to reenter earth; and optimal trajectory of spacecraft’s reentry and performance analysis of thermal protection system. Additionally, research on heat-resistant materials, material properties for high atmospheres of over 100km in altitude, integrated optimal system design for weight, mission performance, and trajectory and fuselage-integrated air speedometer system for application to high-speed aircraft is scheduled. The fundamental technology acquired through this study can be applied to the development of the return capsule in the short term and the development of Korean unmanned spacecraft in the long term.

Launched by the Nuri to carry out mission in the low Earth orbit

The mission type of the unmanned spacecraft is designed by assuming that the Korean launch vehicle Nuri is launched as a payload, completing its missions in the low Earth orbit and landing on a flight test center. The missions include microgravity experiments such as biological research of plant growth using microgravity caused by the centrifugal force generated from ground observation and orbit and research on new material through the removal of buoyancy and experiments using thermocouple pyrometers, such as measuring the amount of aerodynamic heating generated during the reentry and amount of ablation caused by the heat. Additionally, since the international space station (ISS) operates at an altitude of 350-400 km, it can be used to transport cargo to the ISS in the future. The unmanned spacecraft flying at mission altitude of 300 km should be designed to have weight of less than 4,800kg, width of less than 5m, and length of less than 7m, taking into account the payload of the Nuri launch vehicle. Its goal is to reenter at an initial speed of 7,000m/s and glide to land on the runway.

To secure technology to develop future spacecraft

As overseas cases show, the technology demonstrating spacecraft can be tested and evaluated through methods such as real spacecraft test and model test and by launching the technology demonstrating spacecraft into an actual or a semi-orbital orbit to conduct communication test and aerodynamic characteristics identification. Since the Korean launch vehicle's payload size is large enough to fit a small unmanned spacecraft, the launch of the unmanned spacecraft can be carried out independently without relying on foreign countries. This conceptual design of spacecraft is expected to secure technologies for the design and development of spacecraft such as planetary exploration spacecraft and scramjet spacecraft necessary for future space research in addition to reused unmanned space vehicles. Aerodynamic heating analysis and heat defense system design technology in hypersonic flow to be used for design can be used in common in all space fields that require reentry to Earth. If this technology is applied to space vehicle design, it is expected to serve as the reference for various kinds of spacecraft to be developed in the future.
  • Mission altitude300km
  • Weight4,800kg or less
  • Width5 m or less
  • Length7 m or less
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