About CSAR

Engineering at Illinois Engineering at Illinois

About CSAR

The Center for Simulation of Advanced Rockets (CSAR) is one of five university-based Centers of Excellence founded in 1997 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Simulation and Computing program, whose objective is to enable accurate prediction of the performance, reliability, and safety of complex physical systems through computational simulation. CSAR's mission is to achieve this goal in the specific context of solid propellant rockets, which are of vital importance to the space launch industry. A particular focus for CSAR is on the reusable solid rocket motor (RSRM) that powers the U.S. Space Shuttle.

The overarching goal of CSAR is integrated, whole-system simulation of solid propellant rockets under both normal and abnormal operating conditions. Achieving this goal requires the development of accurate models of physical components, subscale simulations of materials and accident scenarios, a software framework to facilitate component integration, a computational infrastructure to support large-scale simulations, and extensive research collaborations with government laboratories and the rocket industry.

Rocket simulation is highly interdisciplinary, involving the ignition and combustion of heterogeneous composite solid propellant; the structural dynamics of the propellant, case, insulation, and nozzle; the fluid dynamics of the turbulent, reactive, multiphase interior flow and exhaust plume; and the interactions among all of these. It is especially challenging because of the fundamentally three-dimensional physics, strong nonlinear coupling among components, complex and dynamically changing geometry, complex material properties and physical processes, and extremely diverse spatial and temporal scales. Moreover, the enormous computational capacity required for high-resolution simulation of full burn requires scalability to thousands of processors.

This research is carried out by an interdisciplinary team of approximately eighty faculty, staff, and students spanning several academic departments. Administratively, CSAR is part of Computational Science and Engineering, an interdisciplinary research and educational program encompassing fourteen academic departments, whose purpose is to produce students who are proficient in computing, including numerical computation and the practical use of advanced computer architectures, as well as in one or more applied disciplines in science and engineering.