Rocket Exhaust Trench

Dr. Caroline Lubert has been working on the noise emitted by rockets when they launch. One of the ways in which engineers reduce rocket launch noise is through the use of a trench which channels the rocket exhaust away. The shape of this trench is very important. In particular, Dr. Lubert has been working with Orbital ATK (now Northrop Grumman) – one of the two commercial resuppliers of the International Space Station, together with SpaceX – who launch their Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Although we have engineering drawings of the Wallops trench, we would like to see a 3D printed version of it, so that we can more easily visualise and understand the flow processes that take place inside it.

Students participating in this project would take our engineering drawings and print prototypes of the trench, after helping to decide which aspects of the trench are the most important to render accurately. They would also try to convert the engineering drawings into mathematical descriptions of the trench. They would then print larger sections of some of the most important sections of the trench.