SERA3, a very educational project

The data analysis review of SERA3 was held on the 29th of June, 2017, at the CNES’ Launcher Directorate. It was the occasion to present flight analysis, main events encountered during the campaign or the project as a whole, points to be improved or on the contrary to be maintained, even consolidated.

Much work has been going on for more than 12 months. The creation of this rocket is the result of the collaboration of more than 20 students from 4 different student associations, S3 (Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace), OCTAVE (Université d’Evry-Val d’Essonne), CLC (Ecole Centrale de Lyon) and ISS (IPSA) ; they were managed by a PERSEUS project team (MI-GSO, IPSA, GAREF Aérospatial).

Two payloads were carried by the rocket and this confirms the scale of implication of the PERSEUS project in Europe :

The first being, VISTA (Vibrations Inherent System for Tracking and Analysis), a result of a multi-year cooperation between Sweden and France, that was developed by a 10 students team from LTU (Luleå Technology University), it tested and analyzed the exploitation of the GPS raw signal.
The second payload was developed by an european student team from the TFS association (TechForSpace). In it were embedded various sensors in order to measure the evolution of the magnetic field of the earth during the flight.

Documented work and results from electrical and mechanical subsystems verification were oftenly subjected to reviews (PDR, CDR, QR, BFR), thus enabling the CNES to regularly track progress of the project. The data analysis review was, therefore, the last step of the project.

SERA-3 is the third supersonic experimental rocket developed within the framework of PERSEUS. Like the previous rockets of the ARES Performance sector, it was launched from ESRANGE (SSC) in Kiruna, Sweden. The flight occured the 26th of April, 2017. The main objective of SERA rockets is to demonstrate the capacity of the technologies developed by PERSEUS to maintain in-flight atmospheres closer to those of an operational launcher :

• High dynamic pressure
• Transsonnic flight
• Inertial loads
• Lift Off

An adapted measurement plan allowed better restitution of atmospheres and aerodynamic phenomena. Unlike previous rockets, SERA3 was propelled by a cluster of 3 Pro98 powder motors. Its structure therefore included a skirt allowing to pass from a diameter of 160mm on the upper part, to a diameter of 250mm for the lower part.

So, this 78kg demonstrator reached 5200m, with maximum acceleration of 9.5g and 1.25 Mach, for a 5min33s flight.

We’ve been able to compare the results thanks to VISTA’s data. It would be interesting to have this paylaod embedded again on next flights to narrow down the different results. Besides, the first exploitation of the data from the sensors have highlighted the need to perform deeper analysis which would contribute to improve the developement of the next rocket ans especially SERA4.

Congratulations to all the participants involved in this project and thank you all for these encouraging results ! The PERSEUS project is pleased to be able to renew its cooperation with SSC for the next supersonic rocket SERA4, which is currently being defined.