Mentor: Dr. Anil Rao
College of Engineering
"As an undergrad who wants to go to grad school, I'm looking to determine my strongest interests and start developing my skills as a researcher. Research challenges me to solve problems outside of what is presented in the classroom."
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
- Dynamic Modeling
- Space Systems Design
Hobbies and Interests
- Staying Active (attempting P90X)
Modeling and Optimizing an In-Flight Launch Assist
"An in-flight launch assist is a multiple-stage rocket launch from a subsonic aircraft in flight. This mode is ideal for small payloads that need to be placed in low orbit (such as small satellites). The difficulty both of modeling the complex system and of optimizing the solution has led me to pursue this topic as an area of research. The first component of the project, the model, will use systems of differential equations to describe the dynamics of an in-flight launch assist. The model of the assist from start to finish has multiple phases. The first phase of the model will consider the aircraft trajectory, for which I plan to use data from the Boeing 747. The second phase will consider the rocket launch from the aircraft, for which standard mass properties will be used. The rocket’s trajectory will have multiple stages in which the rocket separates into smaller and smaller bodies until the desired payload is placed in orbit. The model will then be used in combination with optimization software developed under Dr. Anil Rao called GPOPS-II. GPOPS-II is a MATLAB-based software that solves complex nonlinear optimal control problems for which a closed-form solution would be difficult or even impossible to attain. I will learn to program the software in MATLAB in order to solve the systems of differential equations created in the model. The programmed model will be used to enhance a variety of input and output variables, such as minimizing cost while maximizing payload. The hope is that this model may help to further the development of in-flight launch assist programs by providing accurate solutions to this optimization problem.