Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Buckling Design and Imperfection Sensitivity of Sandwich Composite Launch-Vehicle Shell Structures

MARC SCHULTZ, DAVID SLEIGHT, DAVID MYERS, ALLEN WATERS, JR., PRASAD CHUNCHU, ANDREW LOVEJOY and MARK HIL

Abstract


Composite materials are increasingly being considered and used for launch-vehicle structures. For shell structures, such as interstages, skirts, and shrouds, honeycomb-core sandwich composites are often selected for their structural efficiency. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the structural response, including buckling, of sandwich composite shell structures. Additionally, small geometric imperfections can significantly influence the buckling response, including considerably reducing the buckling load, of shell structures. Thus, both the response of the theoretically perfect structure and the buckling imperfection sensitivity must be considered during the design of such structures. To address the latter, empirically derived design factors, called buckling knockdown factors (KDFs), were developed by NASA in the 1960s to account for this buckling imperfection sensitivity during design. However, most of the test-article designs used in the development of these recommendations are not relevant to modern launch-vehicle constructions and material systems, and in particular, no composite test articles were considered. Herein, a twopart study on composite sandwich shells to (1) examine the relationship between the buckling knockdown factor and the areal mass of optimized designs, and (2) to interrogate the imperfection sensitivity of those optimized designs is presented. Four structures from recent NASA launch-vehicle development activities are considered. First, designs optimized for both strength and stability were generated for each of these structures using design optimization software and a range of buckling knockdown factors; it was found that the designed areal masses varied by between 6.1% and 19.6%

Full Text:

PDF