Recovery System


What is a Recovery System?

Recovery systems are specialized systems designed to ensure the controlled descent of a rocket to the Earth’s surface. These systems include all materials necessary for deploying and activating parachutes or other recovery mechanisms. Mechanisms for deploying the parachute can vary from mechanical systems using springs to systems utilizing compressed gas. Additionally, recovery systems can be used to separate payload from the rocket or to eject payload from the rocket using customized separation mechanisms. The separation system shares similar varieties as the recovery system.

How to Design a Recovery System?

Before designing a recovery system, the overall design and operational concept of the rocket must be established. This clarifies which materials can be used and the necessary design specifications. Alternatively, although less common, one can first design the recovery system and then design the rocket around it.

Once the general design of the rocket is established, the points from which parachutes or payloads will emerge from the rocket must be determined. Based on this, the recovery system can consist of one, two, or more parts. After determining the points of parachute deployment, designs that are safe, of optimal weight and size, and do not damage the rocket must be developed. Before proceeding with these designs, decisions must be made on whether the recovery system will be mechanical or gas-based. As recovery systems are unique to each rocket, there is no definitive correct approach, but these are the general stages.


Recovery Systems Types

Common main materials used in recovery systems include springs, carbon dioxide (CO2) cylinders, and black powder. Detailed information about parachutes, which are part of the recovery system, can be found on the parachute page. Other materials are used as auxiliary materials to ensure the proper function of these main materials. While only one of these main materials may be used, it is also possible to use two or all three together. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.


Spring-Based Recovery System

This is a mechanically operated recovery system. It launches weights by compressing a compression spring and releasing it with a mechanism. Before selecting a spring, the required spring must be thoroughly calculated. A calculation error can result in the recovery system not functioning correctly. It is difficult to find ready-made springs in alternative dimensions. Typically, custom springs need to be manufactured. The recovery system can be tested repeatedly by operating it multiple times. Using a spring increases the weight of the recovery system significantly compared to CO2 and black powder.


CO2 Cylinder-Based Recovery System

These are recovery systems that utilize the thrust generated by the release of gas resulting from piercing a CO2 cylinder placed in the rocket. Since CO2 cylinders are purchased ready-made, they have an advantage in production compared to springs. A special system is required to pierce the cylinder. The CO2 cylinder needs to be replaced or refilled after each test. After calculating the required thrust, a CO2 cylinder should be obtained. Using several CO2 cylinders together can provide a stronger thrust. A path must be designed to direct the gas discharge to the right place.


Black Powder-Based Recovery System

This operates by igniting black powder placed in a container using an ignition wire. It can be more cost-effective than spring-based and CO2 cylinder-based systems. The system needs to be renewed after each test. The amount of black powder used can be increased for more thrust. It is more dangerous than spring-based and CO2 cylinder-based systems.


How to Manufacture a Recovery System?

Before manufacturing a recovery system, the main material to be used must be selected, calculations made, and the design completed. Once these stages are completed, material selection can be made. Materials can be produced in the desired dimensions using aluminum or plexiglass laser cutting. Materials can also be produced from various types of wood. For more detailed and smaller materials, a 3D printer can be used. As these systems are unique, there is a wide range of materials that can be used in production.

References & Further Reading

  1. Information | DUTlab, DUTlab VENÜS Projesi, 2021


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