Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Aerospace, Physics, and Space Sciences

First Advisor

Daniel Kirk

Second Advisor

Markus Wilde

Third Advisor

Ersoy Subasi

Fourth Advisor

Daniel Batcheldor


The objective of this thesis is to develop a simulation model to study the dynamics of a rigid body in free fall. A set of 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) equations is developed to reflect the dynamic and trajectory characteristics over time. The simulation models a body dropped at different altitudes ranging from 30,480 – 39,624 m (100,000 – 130,000 ft). The trajectory of the body is analyzed using a mathematical nonlinear dynamics model. The mathematical model was developed in MATLAB and Simulink which can be modified for different geometries and conditions. The model was validated by testing that the simulated results were consistent with the expected outcome from literature on rigid body motion. The simulated results agree with the data from literature and the validation was done for every block where it was possible to do so. The simulation will study different length-to-diameter ratios, geometries, initial disturbances, applied forces and fill fractions so the optimal parameters are selected for an instrumented scaled model. The results will provide a dataset to verify and validate simulations, improve confidence of models and reduce uncertainty.