Experimental validation of tape springs to be used as thin-walled space structures

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Journal Article
Journal of Sound and Vibration, 2018, 419 pp. 558 - 570
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd With the advent of standardised launch geometries and off-the-shelf payloads, space programs utilising nano-satellite platforms are growing worldwide. Thin-walled, flexible and self-deployable structures are commonly used for antennae, instrument booms or solar panels owing to their lightweight, ideal packaging characteristics and near zero energy consumption. However their behaviour in space, in particular in Low Earth Orbits with continually changing environmental conditions, raises many questions. Accurate numerical models, which are often not available due to the difficulty of experimental testing under 1g-conditions, are needed to answer these questions. In this study, we present on-earth experimental validations, as a starting point to study the response of a tape spring as a representative of thin-walled flexible structures under static and vibrational loading. Material parameters of tape springs in a singly (straight, open cylinder) and a doubly curved design, are compared to each other by combining finite element calculations, with experimental laser vibrometry within a single and multi-stage model updating approach. While the determination of the Young's modulus is unproblematic, the damping is found to be inversely proportional to deployment length. With updated material properties the buckling instability margin is calculated using different slenderness ratios. Results indicate a high sensitivity of thin-walled structures to miniscule perturbations, which makes proper experimental testing a key requirement for stability prediction on thin-elastic space structures. The doubly curved tape spring provides closer agreement with experimental results than a straight tape spring design.
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