The European Space Agency (ESA) is using CFD in the design of enviromental control facilites in the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and to predict gas impingement forces in the sensitive Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS).
The ATV is used for delivering equipment and consumables to the ISS and for orbital re-boosting when the ISS has lost altitude due to atmospheric friction.
The Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) module, located at the front of the ATV, carries dry cargo which is placed in up to 8 racks mounted in the cylindrical portion of the ICC.
The ICC does not have an advanced enviromental control system, but does have a cabin fan designed to guarantee good ventilation and to ensure an adequate air distribution for crew comfort. Another primary goal of the fan is to avoid any stagnant flow regions in which toxic gases could accumulate and pose a suffocation threat to the astronauts. In addition, the air speed should be always lower than 0.25 m/s in the crew cabin, whereas the air temperature should be less than 28°C, but more than the minimum dew temperature of 16°C. Also, the 'touch temperatures' of surfaces exposed to the crew should not exceed 45°C.
Rather than build an expensive experimental apparatus to test the flow field in the ICC, ESA turned to CFDRC for CFD software which could be used to predict the flow field within the ICC.