NASA’s Ares V space launch vehicle makes significant use of composites, and during flight, the shroud of the Ares V will separate into four petals to release the Lunar Lander. In the design of the structure, the aerodynamic pressure on the shroud is resolved into internally distributed forces. A combination of two software packages — HyperSizer structural sizing software and Abaqus FEA (finite element analysis) software from SIMULIA (Providence, RI) — was used to model and simulate this process.
Abaqus determined the load path/direction and how much load is in the stiffened panel and the ringframe. HyperSizer then analyzed or “sized” the panels’ cross-sectional dimensions and layups to the Abaqus computed load, reducing structural weight, establishing margins of safety for all load cases and all potential failure modes, and creating the stress report for aircraft airworthiness certification. Ares V will serve as NASA’s primary vessel for safe, reliable delivery of large-scale hardware to space — from the lunar landing craft and materials for establishing a moon base, to food, fresh water, and other staples needed to extend a human presence beyond Earth orbit.
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