Introduction to Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace engineering is a branch of engineering which studies engineering issues for flight-related purpose. Aerospace engineering is divided into aeronautical engineering (for atmospheric flight) and astronautical engineering (for outer space flight). However, the term ‘aerospace engineering’ is commonly used to mention both aeronautical and astronautical engineering in England. Other terminologies for aerospace engineering are Aeronautics & Astronautics (in USA), Luftfahrt & Raumfahrt Tehniek (in German), Lutchvaart & Ruimtevaart Techniek (in Netherlands), and Aero et Spatials (in France).
The main goal of aerospace engineering is to develop (design, analyze, manufacture, operate, and maintain) a flight vehicle. To achieve this goal, an understanding of the aerospace environment, the nature phenomenoms inside it, and its influences on the flight vehicle are required. Consequently, several branch of sciences such as fluid mechanics, structure dynamics, material sciences, etc, are needed to understand and manipulate those aerospace environments and become the important elements of aerospace engineering.
Flight vehicle is a type of transportation devices which capable of travelling in the air/atmosphere or to the outer space. There are many types and classifications of flight vehicles. However, generally, flight vehicle can be classified into two categories; aircraft and spacecraft. Aircraft is a flight vehicle that operates inside earth’s atmosphere while spacecraft is a flight vehicle that operates outside earth’s atmosphere (to the outer space). For detailed information on flight vehicle classification, see flight vehicle classification page.
Aerospace environment is the surrounding of a flight vehicle in its operation that influences and being influenced the flight vehicle and can not be controlled over. Aerospace environment can be natural environment or man-made environment. Natural environment is the environment which occurs naturally and usually influences a flight vehicle by means of forces and moments. Several examples of natural environments are inertia field, gravitational field, atmospheric environment, outerspace environment, and electromagnetic field. On the other hand, man-made environment is the environment which is affected by the operation of flight vehicle and often observed for flight vehicle’s signature. The examples of these environments are field of sound, radiowaves field, etc. For detailed explaination on each aerospace environment, see aerospace environment page.
Fundamental Science of Aerospace Engineering
1. Aerodynamics (The Shape of Flight)
Aerodynamics is a branch of fluid mechanics which studies the characteristics of airflow around a body with a certain shape in order to examine pressure distributions on the body’s surface and predict the forces and moments exerted by the air to the body. The ultimate goal of aerodynamics for aerospace engineering is design of shape (airfoil, wing, fuselage, nacelle, etc) which capable of generating the desired force and moments (and/or minimizing the undesired force and moments) in a certain operating airflow.
2. Lightweight Structures (The Strength of Flight)
Lightweight Structures is a branch of solid mechanics and material sciences which studies the characteristic of airframe structures and its responses to all types of load applied during flight. The ultimate goal of lightweight structures for aerospace engineering is design of structure (material selection, manufacturing process, structural arrangement, etc) which is light enough for flight, but still can safely withstand all loads applied during flight.
3. Propulsion Performance (The Power of Flight)
Propulsion Performance is a branch of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and chemical sciences which studies the characteristic of internal flow inside a propulsion system due to compression and expansion, combustion, etc. The ultimate goal of propulsion performance for aerospace engineering is design of propulsion system which capable of generating a desired amount of thrust with a certain fuel consumption in a certain operating condition.
4. Flight Mechanics (The Motion of Flight)
Flight mechanics is a branch of kinematics sciences which studies the kinematics and dynamics of aircraft motion. The ultimate goal of flight mechanics for aerospace engineering is design of aircraft configuration and its control system that enables the aircraft to fly as desired by its mission purpose.
5. Aircraft Design
6. Air Transport System
7. Aircraft Maintenance