Student Research Highlight: Christopher Vanacore

Christopher Vanacore

Degree Program: Double Majoring in Astronautical Engineering and Space Flight Operations

Year: Junior

How has undergraduate research impacted your life?

Becoming an Undergraduate student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has taught me to explore new ways to approach and solve issues in the Aerospace Industry which I never thought I would be able to until reaching a PhD level of academics. This research experience has enabled me to become a better candidate for the Astronautical Engineering department and for Space Flight Operations. The experience I have gained as an undergraduate researcher will open multiple doors to different aerospace industries throughout the world. As of now, I am a Suborbital Advanced Astronaut Scientist Candidate for project PoSSUM and pursuing my dreams to get into the astronaut program. Being involved in research will fulfill my knowledge of how to counteract propellant sloshing in rocket engines. I had the ability to merge my knowledge in mathematical and engineering skills in a way that boosted my research analysis.

What does research mean to you?

To me Research is exploring new ways to approach reality and problem solving applying scientific knowledge such as mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Research is considered to be on different levels and expectations. Research is not simple. There are a lot of steps to take in consideration before diving in to gather data. Research is also acknowledging of being wrong and taking a step back, re-evaluate and try to proceed down the right path to achieve desired results.

Describe some of the projects you have worked on:

Diminishing Rocketry Liquid Propellant Sloshing

The main scope of this research project is to diminish the fuel sloshing activity in the fuel tanks of both aircraft and rockets. Fuel sloshing is a big issue in the aerospace industry as it can impact the center of gravity, weight, mass of the system, leading to changes of bank angle in rockets or aircraft when taking off. Fuel slosh can also decrease performance of rockets and aircraft by slowing them down. Re-ignitable upper stages and other systems (satellites, etc.) perform ballistic coasting phases, especially in Earth orbit. During those phases, the tanks are loaded with liquid propellants and propellant sloshing occurs due to external disturbances or attitude change maneuvers. The sloshing propellant motion induces reaction forces and torques acting on the space vehicle structure, (e.g. rocket upper stages). My project intends to approach the problem in a different and completely new way. I will design a system in which the liquid propellant is in continuous rotation around the container’s axis of symmetry inside the container. The goal of my project is to test this new idea experimentally in the Embry-Riddle’s Wave Motion Dynamics Laboratory located in the Department of Mathematics.