Questions tagged [structural-design]

Questions about aerospace structural design including topics such as design constraints, loads, materials selection, manufacturing, assembly methods, failure criteria, and stress analysis.

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Why do "Relativistic Light Sails Need to Billow"?

The University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science blogpost How to Design a Sail that Won’t Tear or Melt on an Interstellar Voyage links to two new Nano Letters papers: Matthew ...
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Have Kagome lattice patterns been used as structural reinforcement in spacecraft in non-Iranian spacecraft? Can we help Scott Manley "unsee" this one?

Scott Manley's January 2, 2022 video Iran's Reinvigorated Space Program Makes Final Rocket Launch of 2021 references this tweet and screenshots it in his video, I am a bit surprised this is a legal ...
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Why did Black Arrow have a tail skirt?

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the UK's one and only satellite launch on one of her own rockets - Prospero, aboard the Black Arrow. In-flight photos of the Black Arrow look odd because there ...
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4 votes
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Coatings on spacecraft structures

Traditionally, aluminium spacecraft structures have been alodine-coated to protect the surface from corrosion and resistance to scratches. However, the last few years I've noticed that more and more ...
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2 answers
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About optimal staging and structure fractions

I have recently came across an assignment where I have to do optimal staging of rockets using Lagrange multipliers. I am suppose to optimize the mass of each stage of a well-known rocket(I chose ...
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1 vote
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Apollo Cold Welding Mitigation

I am currently debating with someone on a different platform and he brought up the phenomenon "cold welding." I must admit that I had never heard of that before, so I have been reading about ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What do hold-down clamps... clamp exactly?

Dummy question. A launch vehicle is restrained during ignition by hold-down clamps. But exactly what part of the rocket do the clamps grab onto? The engine nozzles seem too fragile... but maybe some ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Why are DART's solar panels aligned like this?

I've never noticed this before, but the two solar arrays of NASA and APL's DART spacecraft are at different "levels". In this image, the solar panel on the left extends out from the "...
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Bumps/nodes on rocket skin: What are they?

I've wondered for a while now what the many bumps and nodes on a rocket's skin are. Picture below for example (red lines mark bumps). Can someone clarify?
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Crew Dragon: How thick is the skin?

Auto body panels are about 20-gauge, or just under 1 mm thick. This is fine for many reasons: thin panels are light for good fuel economy and crumple easily for shock absorption without unnecessary ...
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3 votes
1 answer
540 views

Is streamline body shape essential for propagation in the vacuum of space?

Streamline body shape is essential for reducing friction during motion in fluids like liquid and gas, including our dense atmosphere. Is streamline body shape also essential for propagation in the ...
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Mount Lightband with Screws into Helicoils?

Quick question; provided sufficient rigidity and accommodation for tear out in the underlying structure, can you fasten a Planetary Systems Motorized (or Advanced) Mark 2 lightband ESPA interface with ...
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What is the maximum force a deep space spacecraft experiences after launch?

The premise of How much of a deep space spacecraft's structural mass is useless dead weight after launch? Any plans to shed it in the future? is that the forces a deep space spacecraft experiences ...
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How much of a deep space spacecraft's structural mass is useless dead weight after launch? Any plans to shed it in the future?

After seeing this in Security SE Magnetic core memory isn't quite extinct yet. The two Voyager spacecraft used it and are still functional. Core was/is certainly non-volatile. I did some ...
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How do all the struts and crosses in the Orion Crew Capsule Service Module work together? What do each of these parts do?

The BBC's Europe to make more hardware for American Moon missions says that three more service modules for the Orion Crew Capsule have been ordered by NASA, bringing the total desired to six. I ...
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8 votes
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Why do some rockets have closed boattails around the engines and others do not?

During launch and landing, dust, dirt and debris may be stirred up. For non-gimbaling engines like the vac Raptors on Starship, can't the engine fairing/boattail be closed? I imagine titanium sheet ...
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3 votes
2 answers
238 views

Lunar landing in cotton candy?

When spacecraft land on Earth, they use the atmosphere to slow down. On the Moon there's no atmosphere, so spacecraft must instead use rockets to slow down from orbital velocity. Would it be possible ...
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7 votes
1 answer
493 views

Why are the SpaceX Starship, "rings" the width that they are?

Why are the SpaceX Starship, "rings" the width that they are? Wouldn't creating the rings from SS that's twice as wide reduce the welding by half?
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7 votes
2 answers
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Did any rockets have 5- or 7-fold symmetry?

Have any rockets ever been made with fivefold or sevenfold symmetry? Five or seven (or larger prime numbers, or multiples thereof) identical engines or boosters equally spaced around the center. (...
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9 votes
3 answers
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Why are stages not connected by the engine nozzle? Why are interstages used?

First, a clarification: I understand the aerodynamic reasons that interstages are used, and I understand that the shockwaves that would be generated without an interstage would wreck the rocket. My ...
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2 votes
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Are all interstages load-bearing?

There have been a lot of flown orbital rockets. All of them* are multi-stage. Most of those used interstages where staging wasn't parallel. Did all of those interstages bear the entire load of ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Best shape for Orion nuclear pulse-propelled ships?

I have been doing research on Project Orion. There was this big expensive canceled NASA program to build armored spaceships that had to be blasted into space by exploding nuclear charges underneath ...
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12 votes
2 answers
866 views

Why are balloon tanks used by so few rocket designs?

Balloon tanks, first used on the MX-774 sounding rocket (the direct, though distant, ancestor of the Atlas family of missiles and launchers), are structurally stabilised by internal gas pressure, ...
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12 votes
1 answer
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How much does the ISS "banana" or flex under the constantly changing conditions of solar heating?

This answer to Do antennae on the ISS have to constantly move to maintain data links? discusses some of the challenges precisely pointing an antenna mounted to the ISS exterior. While the ISSs orbit ...
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2 votes
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What is the load path for thrust in a rocket engine? [duplicate]

This may be a duplicate of this question but I wasn't sure if I could hijack that one to clarify or regenerate interest there. What is the distribution of axial force in a combustion chamber? My ...
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13 votes
1 answer
275 views

Why do some struts used in aerospace vehicle structures taper at the ends?

This ISS truss segment S6 (in the Space Station Processing Facility) shows quite a few examples. (Personal Photo) I've also seen them in the shuttle Orbiter midbody and aft compartment. It would ...
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37 votes
1 answer
32k views

How is unwanted cold welding prevented in space?

Metallic surfaces touching in the vacuum can stick to each other and fuse. This is known as the "cold welding" and it seems to be a possible issue in space if it happens where it should not. ...
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