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A study of hybrid inflatable space booms for small satellite applications

By Andy Cook


Inflatables have considerable packing efficiencies and allow simple deployment. This is due to their lack of stiffness when deflated, offering low cost solutions for space applications. After inflation, these typically soft systems could be improved using tape springs as structural stiffeners along the length of the boom, creating hybrid structures. These simple low cost single element components are easily stowed gaining strain energy in their collapsed state without permanent deformation providing additional potential to drive boom deployment. Combining both inflatable and tape spring components could create a superior hybrid boom with significant structural performance, whilst maintaining the advantages of gossamer structures.<br/><br/>This research focuses on the structural performance improvement of adding tape springs to cantilever inflatable booms in over 40 experimental permutations. Applied tip loads identify the deflection response of these inflatable and hybrid booms, allowing a comparison between the two technologies. A computational hybrid boom model is developed alongside the experimental analysis using detailed material testing data of the inflatable fabric boom allowing an increased range of permutations and greater detail. The structural analysis has demonstrated the performance flexibility of hybrid booms where specific peak moment and rigidity requirements can be tailored through two key configurations; 2 opposed tape springs vertically aligned to the applied load and 4 tape springs in a cross formation square to the applied load respectively. A performance evaluation between the inflatable and hybrid booms shows significant potential whilst reducing the operational importance of maintaining pressurised systems. The greatest structural performance improvement is at 2.5 PSI with an increase of over 8 and 10 times for peak moment and boom rigidity respectively. This is achieved when adding 4 tapes in a cross formation to the inflatable boom with an added mass of 105%. This research has also highlighted the importance of the attachment method between the tape springs and inflatable boom with respect to packing efficiency, parasitic mass and structural performance trade offs

Year: 2015
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:393986
Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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