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÷ Exhaust plumes from solid propellant rocket motors
interfere with microwave transmission, as shown in Fig.
a, and such interference can result in failure of
telecommunications ,which could affect telemetry,
command procedures, or the radar link between a
vehicle and the ground-based antennas.
÷ Hence, we investigated the microwave transmission
behavior during sea-level static firing tests conducted
for a full-scale solid rocket motor.
÷ We measure microwave attenuation and phase delays at
three frequency by a simple antenna setup as shown in
fig b
Fig a:Plume RF interaction in rocket flight.

Fig b:Antenna setup in the experiment.

- [he microwave attenuation experiments were conducted during
static firing tests on a full-scale solid rocket motor.
- [hree microwave frequencies generally used in space
communications were selected: S-band, 2.3 GHz; C-band, 5.6
GHz; and X-band, 8.5 GHz.
- Horn-type antennas were adopted for both the transmitter and
receiver in order to achieve high directivity.
- [he motor was positioned horizontally, and the antennas were
placed on the motor test site facing each other across the motor
plume, as shown in Fig. c.
- [he heights of the antennas were adjusted such that they were
positioned along the center of the axis of the motor nozzle.
Fig c :Microwave attenuations and S-band phase delay
measurement system in the experiment
÷ [he microwaves with each of the three frequencies were received
and finally down converted to 10 kHz and then recorded on a
digital data recorder with a sampling rate of 48 kHz.
÷ [he attenuation was evaluated by comparing the received
microwave levels before and during the motor firing.
÷ For the phase delay measurement, the S-band signal from the
oscillator was divided and its phase was periodically varied by
using a phase shifter.
÷ [he phase-delayed signal was combined with the signal received
by the receiver antenna and the synthesized signal was recorded.
÷ [he phase delay data were obtained by analyzing the waveform
or hum of the recorded signal.
÷ Here attenuation is defined as (1-(V/Vo)^2 )


Fig. d. Experimental results: microwave attenuations, phase delay and chamber

pressure (S-band, 2.3 GHz; C-band, 5.6 GHz; X-band, 8.5 GHz).
÷ mt can be seen in Fig. d that low-frequency microwaves
are highly attenuated during the initial 90 s.
÷ [his frequency dependence of attenuation is in
accordance with the characteristics attributable to the
plane wave-slab plasma interaction theory ,
÷ [here is an apparent relationship between the voltage
ratios and the chamber pressure because the plasma
density distribution in the plume changes with
decreasing chamber
÷ For approximately 20 s before the end of the firing
(90Ȃ110 s in Fig. d), it is observed that large
attenuations and large phase shift appear and that the
frequency dependence of attenuation changes.

÷ [o analyze microwave transmission through such
plasma, we have developed the (FD)^2 [D method
calculation code . [he electric field update equation
for the plasma region is expressed as
- Where Ve is the electron collision frequency, ɟp is the
electron plasma frequency, and ϙt is the time step size.
[he two plasma properties (ɟ and Ve ) are required for
the (FD) [D simulation
- Voltage ratio is calculated as follows:

where ɒ is the microwave frequency, c is the speed

of light, and d is the distance the wave travels in
the plasma
- mnput plasma properties for calculation of V/Vo is
given table 1
[he attenuation of each frequency changes dynamically
with time.
hence, the firing period is subdivided into three periods:
- the early period (10Ȃ20 s), the middle period (40Ȃ50 s)
and the last period (95Ȃ105 s). [he measured voltage
ratios were averaged for each period before
substituting to in order to reduce the received noise
mainly generated by the flow turbulence in the
plume.[he estimated plasma properties in each period
are summarized in [able m.
÷ [he calculations were conducted for the 3 frequencies (S-,
C-,and X-band) and 4 periods (before firing, early period,
middle period, and last period). [hese 12 FD[D
simulations were separately performed from the start of the
microwave radiation at the transmitter through the
receiving at the receiver.
÷ [he origin of x-axis corresponds to the start of microwave
radiation from the transmitter and the microwave reaches
at the receiver about 48 ns. [he received levels keep
constant after receiving.
÷ [he voltage ratios is found using these constant values
÷ Various graph b/w bands Ey distribution for various
period are shown below:
For early

For middle

For Last
Fig. y-band Ey distribution on the transmitter-plume core-receiver line.

Fig. X-band Ey distribution on the transmitter-plume core-receiver line.

÷ For estimating plume plasma properties and understanding the
essence of rocket plume RF interference, experiments involving the
interaction between rocket exhaust and microwave transmission were
conducted during a full-scale solid rocket firing test. Microwave
transmission analysis using the (FD)^2 [D approach was applied. [he
attenuation predicted by the (FD) ^2[D calculations agrees well with
the experimental results. [he (FD) ^2[D results indicated some
interactions such as microwave attenuation through the plume and
diffraction around the plume. Furthermore, the (FD) ^2[D
calculations revealed that when a higher plasma density is achieved in
the plume, microwaves hardly penetrate the plume and bypass it, in
other words, the diffraction effect becomes dominant. [he diffraction
effect changes the microwave path length to the receiver and causes the
phase delay observed in both the experimental data and the numerical
(FD) ^2[D calculation results. mn the low plasma density case, however,
the penetration path becomes dominant and the plane wave-slab
plasma interaction theory is useful for estimating the attenuation.
Fig Comparison of the voltage ratio between the experimental results
and the FD[D results.

Fig. Comparison of the phase advance according to the plane wave-slab

plasma interaction theory and the FD[D results.

*1] [. Abe, K. Fujita, H. Ogawa, and m. Funaki, DzMicrowave telemetry breakdown caused by
rocket plume,dz in Ú 

*2] D. E. Mcmver, Jr., Dz[he radio frequency signal attenuation problem of rocket exhaust,dz in
Ú   ! "#$ !"$Ú    $ %  
&'%($ !)**++)Langley Research Center.
*3] W. A.Wood and J. E. DeMore, DzMicrowave attenuation characteristics of solid propellant
rocket exhaust products,dz in Ú 
*$  Ú  &', )*-
*4] F. A.Vicente, E. C. [aylor, and R. W. Phelps, DzAnalysis of flame effects on measured
electromagnetic propagation date,dz .    no. 8, pp. 1069Ȃ1075, 1967.
*5] F. P. Boynton and P. S. Pajasekhar, DzPlume RF mnterference Calculations for Space
Shuttle,dz 1978, NASA-CR-161099.
*6] L. D. Smoot, DzCauses of ionization in rocket exhausts,dz .   vol. 12, no. 3, pp.
179Ȃ183, 1975.
*7] L. D. Smoot, DzRocket exhaust plume radar attenuation and amplitude/
phase noise,dz .    *++)+-