Continuum structural representation of flexure and tension stiffened one-dimensional spacecraft architectures

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


Spacecraft designs are a result of system properties and design variables that ensure the spacecraft will operate to mission objectives. The focus of this effort is a set of global system variables for frequency, length, total mass and the ratio between the payload mass and the support structure mass. These properties will be explored to observe the behavior of the system and develop relationships that govern the trade-offs between the variables and assist mission planners in future spacecraft design. These variables will be observed in one-dimensional structures where the dominating dimension is many times larger than the other two dimensions and the system is comprised of a support and a payload member. To observe the interaction between the payload and the support, the system was varied for different system variables and observed through ABAQUS finite element software. Attempts were made to predict the system frequency through mathematical approaches. The finite element work was able to generate several approximate relationships between the system variables and the fundamental natural frequency of the system. From these relationships an approximate equation was developed for the frequency for a fixed mass ratio and load ratio as a function of the length, bending stiffness, and total mass of the system. Additional work into the changes to the system as the number of connect points is increased shows the system converging towards a frequency solution which results in a minimized dependence on the connection points. These results were then compared to those of several derived analytical models to determine if a closed-form solution could be used to predict system behavior over the same range of structural characteristics. This closed form solution proved to correlate well to analytical predictions only for the case where the support structure dominates the total system mass, and thus the structural system performs like a beam under compression. Further work is necessary to accurately predict the system frequency through an analytical approach. These insights promise to aid mission designers in objectively evaluating new structural architectures based on structural performance rather than on an unbalanced adherence to heritage or in some cases personal preference.




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