Russia to Test Rockets on a Supercomputer

October 03, 2011, Mon 11:37 AM  Business  Integration

Russia`s state space organization - Roscosmos - is looking for a contractor to develop software and a compute system that would help reduce the number of real experiments in rocket construction and therefore - help save a lot of money.

Russia`s Federal Space Agency - Roscosmos - has published a tender for development of "manufacturing technology of a cluster compute system with hybrid architecture for imitational modeling of rocket and launchers` real flight conditions". The works have been estimated at 54,3 mln rubles (around $1,74 mln).

As it`s said in the tender documentation, the space agency expects the contractor to not only deliver the "manufacturing technology", but a sample of such compute system (with CPU+GPU architecture), which is going to be installed in one of the space industry`s head organizations, as well as applied software.

The latter must include tools for simulation of flows that occur at the lancher start, simulation of launcher`s transonic flight regimes, and tools for descent module`s descent simulation with regards to its heat and mass transfer.

The software, amongst all, must simulate the processes going in a gasdynamics chamber (which is used for research of heat transfer and aerogas dynamics of rockets at transonic speeds) for experimental tests of descent module ballistic descent.

One of the world`s largest gasdynamics chambers is located in the Central Science-Research Institute for Machine Engineering (TSNIIMASH) in Moscow, Russia. It has been used for heat transfer research for a number of Russian and foreign space vehicles. A source in TSNIIMASH said to CNews that descent module construction might require such facility usage tens of times, which might cost millions of rubles.

With the help of the new software and compute system Roscosmos, amongst all, hopes to considerably "reduce the cost of on-land experiments by yearly reduction of tests", it is said in the tender documentation.

The compute system sample is expected to provide peak performance of up to 10 Tflops. One of the Russian HPC systems comparabale by capacity occupies the 40th position of the current edition of the Top-50 most powerful supercomputers list of Russia and the CIS. The Roscosmos system must also have 20 Gb RAM and 4000 Gb disk space.

It stands to mention that Roscosmos by now has had some practice of computer modeling. This year the agency got a personal supercomputer with performance of arounf 1 Tflops and some applied software developed by specialists of the Federal Nuclear Center of the Russian city of Sarov (part of Russia`s biggest state nuclear corporation - Rosatom). source close to Rosatom said to CNews that software had been used to model some elements of the new RD-0146 spacecraft engine and parts of the Rus-M launcher.

Roscosmos hopes the new software and compute system will help to get closer to narrowing the gap between Russia, the USA and the other leading countries regarding modeling and simulation of rocket on-land tests, it is said in the tender documents.

Launches of Russian space vehicles have not always been successful recently. For instance, in December 2010 three GLONSS-M satellites failed to reach the orbit and fell in the Pacific Ocean area. In August 2011 the newest telecom satellite Express-AM4 failed to reach the orbit either. The same month launch of cargo spacecraft Progress-M12M resulted in crash. By some estimations, the loss the latter endured is around $100 mln.

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