Launcher Flight Dynamics Simulator

Taking advantage of ESA's Structures & Mechanisms division's strong expertise in dynamics (multibody software) and, in particular, in launch vehicle flight dynamics, a generic flight simulator has been built to simulate a wide variety of launch vehicle dynamics and control problems at 'system level' since 2001. The backbone of the Flight Dynamics Simulator is DCAP (Dynamic and Control Analysis Package). With the implementation of dedicated interfaces to other specialised software (such as NASTRAN, CATIA, Matlab/Simulink,...), it is possible to reproduce, with a quite good level of details, most of the key subsystems (such as trajectory, structures, configuration, mechanisms, aerodynamics, propulsion, GNC, propulsion,...) of the launcher in a single simulation.
Launcher flight dynamics simulator analysis allows the verifying whether the selected launch vehicle design is able to accomplish the mission objectives taking into account the output information provided by all other subsystems such as Trajectory, Structures, Mechanisms, Aerodynamics, Propulsion, GNC etc. In particularly, non-linear dynamic simulations have been run in order to assess stability in nominal and off-nominal condition, TVC angular deflection and general loads.
Taking advantage of the Multibody approach, this simulator has been easily retuned in order to be used in some CDF studies on new launch vehicle feasibility concepts. Furthermore, the simulator has been adjusted to tackle specific events, such as multi-payload separation dynamics (Swarm & Galileo), thrust vector control subsystem studies (GSTP3, GSTP4 & VEGA), lift-off analysis (VEGA), general loads (VEGA).
Launch Vehicle during lift off phase
Launch Vehicle during lift off phase
Last update: 18 January 2011

Related articles:

 •  DCAP Release 7.0 (

Conference papers

 •  Variable mass and Simulink I/F – 2004 (pdf) (
 •  Launcher Environment – 2005 (pdf) (
 •  Simulator Overview (System & Subsystems) – 2010 (pdf) (


 •  MAST overview (pdf) (

More information

 •  Multibody & Advanced Simulation Team (
 •  Bearing Life Assessment (
 •  Electromagnetics, Electrostatics (
 •  Feasibilities studies (CDF) (
 •  ISS payloads (
 •  Mechanism Component Analysis (
 •  Multibody General Applications (
 •  On-Ground Test and In-Flight Telemetry Data Analysis (