In the latest years the situational awareness on man-made space debris and the application of mitigation guidelines has grown very rapidly. The need of reducing the global space debris population orbiting in the low earth orbit has led to the necessity of developing new satellite design techniques and drivers. At the satellite end-of-life, the object usually undergoes an atmospheric re-entry, and the harsh environment (hypersonic velocity and extremely high heat and structural loads) can cause the complete destruction and ablation of the object and its components, making the adoption of a controlled re-entry unnecessary. The Space Debris Mitigation Compliance Verification Guidelines defines the requirements of Human Casualty risk associated with an uncontrolled re-entry scenario, which can be assessed simulating the re-entry scenario with different software, such as SCARAB (spacecraft oriented), or DRAMA (object oriented), and different others.
These software commonly estimate the aerodynamics and aerothermodynamics during the re-entry with different degrees of simplification, via hypersonic local panel inclination methods.
These software allow the simulation of break-up events during the re-entry with different levels of accuracy, estimating the ground footprint location, along with surviving mass of the re-entering spacecraft fragments.
All the software currently used for simulating the re-entry of spacecraft and space debris require the ad hoc modelling of the satellite and its components; this research aims at integrating a software commonly used at system level for thermal engineering purposes (ESATAN-TMS) with a set of subroutines for performing the atmospheric re-entry analysis, trajectory propagation, impact ground footprint estimation, and human casualty risk evaluation. Such implementation would
facilitate the system integrators to use the same Geometrical and Thermal Mathematical Model for both: thermal system level analysis and re-entry casualty risk evaluation. Such advantage would allow different disciplines to work on the same models with the same software.
In order to perform such implementation, different modules programmed in FORTRAN will be required: state vector dynamics propagation (i.e.: trajectory propagation), aerodynamics and aerothermodynamics, spacecraft break-up, fragmentation, shape evolution, progressive destruction of equipment models, ground footprint and casualty risk estimation. This work is largely based on previous research works and the implementation of the open source software for aerothermal re-entry analysis developed at the University of Strathclyde in the recent years.