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Aerospace Structures — Present Practices and Future Aspirations in Launch Vehicles

Lalmoni, Non–member S K D Rachel, Non–member C Bhaskaran, Non–member B P Shastry, Fellow
Design of structures for space missions is a formidable challenge to design community due to contradictory requirements of low margin, low mass and cheaper but high reliability. These requirements are presently met by design and / construction concepts of externally stiffened construction and integrally stiffened construction, such as, closely stiffened structures, ring stiffened structures, waffle, isogrid structures, sandwich, composite structures etc. The innovations in design and structures have parallely led to advancements in materials and manufacturing technologies and have substantially contributed to satisfy the specified requirements of the present Indian space mission applications. With increasing competitions in achieving faster, reliable, frequent and cheaper missions at still lower costs, demand is for fully reusable structures with little refurbishing and practically no maintenance to save time and cost. Future space missions have to encounter impact of debris and threat of space debris is alarmingly increasing day by day. Structures for future reusable launch vehicles and other space / interplanetary missions thus need to be essentially designed as self–sensing and self–healing type to tolerate damages and save the mission. Health monitoring of structures assisted by real time reinforcement ensure safety of structure and avoid catastrophic failures. Presently, structural testing is very expensive and time consuming. Alternate methods have to be explored in future to carryout virtual testing. Hot structures and deployable structures are already drawing great attention in space missions and for immediate requirements. The paper initially summarises the challenges in design of structures presently utilised particularly in launch vehicles and later highlights some of those frontier structural technologies which need to be pursued in design/analysis/testing areas for future aerospace missions.
Keywords : Aerospace structures; Launch vehicles; Elastic memory composite; Shape memory alloy; Smart key

LAUNCH VEHICLE — TRANSPORTER TO ACE SP SPACE India has an array of achievements in the development of space technology and its application to vital areas like telecommunications, television broadcast and meteorology including disaster warning, resources survey and management. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plays a key role in planning and execution of national space programme. The Indian space programme was formally organised in 1972 with the setting up the Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS) by the Government of India. For a satellite to remain in orbit and to be of service to the nation, it has to travel at great speed of 7 km/s (25000 km/h). The satellite has to leave the earth’s surface
Lalmoni, S K D Rachel, C Bhaskaran and B P Shastry are with the Structural Design and Engineering Group, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram 695 022. This paper was presented and discussed at the Twentieth National Convention of Aerospace Engineers held at Thiruvananthapuram during October 29–30, 2006.

at the required altitude and with sufficient tangential velocity. This is achieved by taking the satellite in a launch vehicle to the pre–determined altitude and releasing it gently in the required orbit. The satellite is packed inside the payload fairing of the vehicle and carried into space, powered by a rocket engine. During launching, the launch vehicle’s rockets lift the satellite off the launch pad and carry it into space, where it circles the earth in a temporary orbit. Then the spent rockets and the launch vehicle drop away and one or more motors attached to the satellite move it into its permanent orbit. A motor is fired up for a certain amount of time, sometimes just one or two minutes, to push the satellite into place. When one of these motors is started, it is called a ‘burn’. It may take many burns, over a period of several days, to move the satellite into its assigned orbital position. A satellite launch vehicle is a complex transportation system which is tailored and engineered to function as a flying machine. This vehicle is made capable of transcending the harsh atmospheric regime and beyond near earth space and deliver the encapsulated satellite in the orbit; thus fulfilling the mission. High level of reliability and quality assurance have to be ensured at all the levels


IE(I) Journal–AS

which have performed their function. the inert stages. etc. and Secondary structures. The vehicle being a costly affair and more so the mission safety. In multi– stage launch vehicle. design. Provide housing for the payload. semi– monocoque or skin stringer. and Thrust transfer joints. it is crucial for the launch vehicle to successfully achieve the mission objectives. both physical and chemical. Launch vehicle development is a multi–disciplinary. This is enabled by staging/separation systems which are essentially pyro/explosive based systems. The major emphasis is to realise very reliable low mass structure meeting the strength and stiffness requirements of the launch vehicle. interface joints and payload fairings belong to this category. liquid. realising and qualifying the launch vehicle structures are very complex tasks. isogrid/ waffle. meeting the strength and stiffness requirements. appendages and module mountings. fabrication and assembly. are jettisoned sequentially as flight progresses. The cost of a mission is so expensive that it is very essential to test. Unlike ground–based structure.25) and thus demand accurate analysis of load bearing capacity of each element of structure and mutual interaction among various structural elements. brackets. In addition to primary structures. guidance and control systems. the factor of safety used in designing these structures are very low ( ~ 1. but also house various avionics/propulsion packages and mechanisms that are required for the proper functioning of the various stages and the launch vehicle as a whole. development. at both sub–system and system level for the successful completion of the mission. Each of the stages are interconnected through structures known as interstage structures. The philosophy of LV systems testing is generally quoted as ‘Test as you fly and fly as you test’. truss/framed. 31 Vol 88. Challenge lies in designing and realising the structures with least mass employing low factor of safety and most systems demand innovative design concepts and accurate analysis. LAUNCH VEHICLE STRUCTURES Launch vehicle structures which have the primary role to provide/maintain necessary external aerodynamic shapes while withstanding the flight loads and environments may be broadly classified under two headings : Primary structures. design and testing of all systems have to be proven and critically reviewed before the final test at flight. etc. complex and challenging activity involving almost all branches of engineering and sciences. etc. such as. ease of fabrication/assembly and cost.of its production. Launch vehicles are built as an assemblage of several stages which may be solid. interstage structures. fuel tanks of control systems. Stage motors. tankages and interstage structures. Base shrouds. The main criteria are light weight. ensuring structural integrity while being reliable. tankages. there are other structural elements. are called secondary structures. Interstage structures. Heatshields/payload fairings to protect spacecraft. propulsion. evaluate and ensure its performance before actual launch. Design of structures for launch vehicles is an important task and involves various design expertise and iterations to arrive at good and near optimum design. Withstand the load and environmental conditions. ehicle Structures — Launch V Vehicle ypes of Construction Prevailing T Types Launch vehicle structures are usually of different construction types employing variety of material choices . May 2007 . Various structures commonly used in a launch vehicle are Motor case/ tankages. Designing of both the structural systems need careful attention. and Shall be of lightweight and cost–effective in construction. namely : Provide necessary external shape as directed by the aerodynamic considerations. closely stiffened shell. cryo/semi cryo. etc which are not usually subjected to aerodynamic/primary loadings. These structures can be designed as monocoque. etc depending on the propulsion systems employed. The major elements of launch vehicle structures consist of motor cases. Decision as to the choice of material and method of construction is the key in realising cost–effective near optimum structure. The design features of interstage structures for launch vehicles are mainly dealt in this paper. Interstage structures not only interconnect the two stages. Any failure on the part of the structure will result in total failure of the mission and here lies the importance of the intuition of a structural designer. Primary structures are load–bearing structures and provide the necessary strength and stiffness and thus are responsible for the performance of the vehicle structure. right from the initial stages of mission planning. Designing. pressurisation gas tanks of liquid stages. Launch vehicle structures play vital roles. Hence.

either skin or lattice can be locally stiffened to handle local loads or discontinuities from cutouts. The bulkheads provide adequate stiffness so as to provide intermediate support to the skin and stringer. the thin shell can buckle or cripple at a load much lower than the buckling strength of stingers. Ring stiffened shells. However. skin with frames. closely stiffened shell construction is being presently resorted to. the stringer along with the effective skin width can be designed to have adequate strength against failure. instead of structures produced from separate skin and stiffeners. Monocoque constructions are usually adopted for motor cases (solid stages). Isogrids can effectively carry combined loads because of the arrangement of ribs. 32 Closely stiffened Isogrid Truss Monocoque Waffle Figure 1 T ypes of structural constructions Types Waffle structure is a lattice of ribs forming an array of contiguous repetitive square or rectangular pattern of integral stiffening of skin of the structure as shown in the Figure 1. For still larger diameters. For interstage structures of larger diameters say up to 1 m. structures are constructed by milling of solid blocks/plates. Therefore. The isogrid structure having the advantage to withstand both compressive and bending loads makes this type of construction attractive to the structural designers. semi–monocoque/skin–stringer type construction consisting of a shell. They permit local skin buckling in large lightweight structures without triggering instabilities. Closely stiffened. Integrally stiffening means. The structures are generally to be of waffle type when the machined out pockets are square or rectangular and is of isogrid construction when the pockets are equilateral triangles in shape. For this type of loads. The triangular ribs behave entirely as an isotropic material giving rise to the name isogrid. Stringer. it is assumed that the structural material used exhibits an ideal elastic–plastic behaviour. Launch vehicle structures are mostly subjected to compressive load. This helps in reducing column length and increases the overall bulking strength. Fabrication is easy in the case of monocoque shell type structure. The rectangular waffle plate with integral orthogonal stiffener is assumed as a simply supported plate subjected to membrane and / or bending loading. it is seen that monocoque construction is suitable for light loaded structures of small diameters and pressurised structures. This choice offers more design flexibility than available with rectangular stiffening systems. the enormous effort and time required for riveting the components are strenuous. This is to be designed so that gross buckling. propellant tanks (liquid stages) and interstage structures of small diameter. However.A brief description of the present structural configurations and concepts used in the design of interstage structure for launch vehicles is given here Monocoque. Integrally stiffened structures. stiffened with longitudinal stiffeners called stringers and transversely with rings (bulkheads) is adopted. say up to 0. The first step in developing a procedure for minimum weight balanced design of integrally stiffened waffle plates is to put together a method of analysis that adequately predicts the behaviour of such plates.5 m. Isogrid. Monocoque structure implies an unstiffened shell with practically no or very few transversely placed ring frames called bulkhead–type stiffening rings. A closely stiffened structure consists of a thin shell stiffened with closely spaced stringers and a few number of bulkheads. Semi–monocoque. In this type of structures. The arrangement of ribs behaves iso– tropically. distributing the properties uniformly throughout IE(I) Journal–AS . and Sandwich. Waffle. local buckling and yielding do not occur in any of the given load condition. In developing the behaviour functions. Isogrid structure is a lattice of ribs forming an array of contiguous repetitive equilateral triangular pattern of integral stiffening of skin of the structure.

incorporation of fabrication. lithium. number and cross– section of longitudinal stiffeners and bulkheads. namely. tolerances. Outer facing material Waffle core BI–DIRECTIONAL Facing material Stringer Facing material Corrugated core Exotic materials like Al. lightweight material sandwiched between two thin layers (called ‘face sheets’) of strong material (Figure 2). Composites. etc. new material mixtures. AA 2014. Sandwich construction is a special kind of laminate consisting of a thick core of weak. This is done to improve structural strength without a corresponding increase in weight. or composites were developed. such as. material barrier was a major obstacle to further development in aerospace industry. May 2007 . etc. expensive and machine intensive. cross– section of end rings interface joints to carry the specified design loads are handled using structural mechanics approach. AA 2024. stainless steel. This is the most important step and a good design will only emerge when a good engineering is incorporated into the design. etc are also used in various designs. Launch V ehicle Structures Design and Vehicle Engineering : Current Practices The procedure followed in the design of structures is shown in Figure 3. ie. design engineers are forced to utilise materials up to. their practical limits. Launch V ehicle Structures — Vehicle Present Material Choices Material choice plays a key role in the design and subsequent fabrication of the structure. this has to be finally translated into engineering drawings for realising the structures. seem to represent ‘dream’ materials with tailormade properties.the entire framework. Alloys of aluminium. This is usually required to take care of the complex 33 Truss core UNIDIRECTIONAL Honeycomb core ORTHOTROPIC Figure 2 T ypical sandwich construction Typical Vol 88. Currently to meet requirements of high–speed aircraft. Presently. Having decided upon the material choice. Depending on the requirements. fibre composite materials are finding more and more applications in structure design as one can get desired properties from these materials by careful lay up sequences and result in low mass structures. namely. The designer selects materials with high specific strength (UTS /ρ) and high specific stiffness (E /ρ) along with other desirable characteristics. Designed structures need to be rigorously analysed to establish the adequacy of structure individually or as a whole. Materials commonly used in aerospace structure design are: Alloy steels. thus rendering simplicity for analysis. The design should ensure a positive margin of safety. This step is known as detail engineering and standard design practices like rounding of sharp corners. These structures are mainly employed for inner branches of interstages and for providing isolating effects due to thermal gradient in two adjoining structures. and beyond. in fact. as in the case of pressurised system. however. Earlier. materials need to be selected either to satisfy strength criterion. maraging steel. construction type and estimated loading sizing of the various structural elements. 15 CDV6. AA 2219. Though sizing of various structural elements and thus the structural design is carried out meticulously. AA 7020. thickness of shell. boron Al. The cost of fabrication and machining these panels for large structures are. assembly/inspection features. etc are introduced into the design and necessary alteration/ modifications to the sizes already arrived at are carried without sacrificing design margins. But advantages of sandwich structures are limited to those subjected to the flexural load. or stiffness criterion. and Titanium alloys — Ti6Al4V. Truss/framed construction (Figure 2) is employed for internal structures which are within the interstages or heatshield or open type of structures. local stiffening at cut out/joining regions. to produce high strength–to–weight ratios. mitigation of stress concentration. these were strong but light and able to withstand severe temperature and corrosive conditions. This margin indicates excess strength over the required strength. To meet the demands. as in the case of structures subjected to predominantly compressive loads.

which are prone to failure by buckling and is difficult to predict analytically. are very difficult to be handled through analysis and predicted buckling capacity are often found erroneous as these can not account for boundary conditions. assumptions in design and performance of structures in spite of various cut outs and discontinuities resulting in high stress/strain gradient and their reinforcement schemes. Another important feature which will be brought out by these tests is the adequate margin in the structure for the locked in machining. imperfections. it is difficult to quantify and account for assembly/machining stresses locked up in the fabricated structures. structure and materials are summarised in Figure 4. Qualification test also establishes the design adequacy of structures. buckling strength and natural frequency. The optimum design of a system requires consideration of all three factors simultaneously. namely. The most common and versatile technique is finite element method (FEM). particularly under severe environmental conditions. functional requirements. Previously this design practice was done in a serial order and was really time consuming. design load factor determination Sizing/resizing of the structure and preliminary/ modified design realisation Rigorous analysis of failure modes and margin evaluation for structure member Specifications Configuration Interfaces Environmental conditions Loads. service condition. Although many design aspects are involved in the effective utilisation of materials. It also testifies the adequacy of the structure design. assembly and machining stresses satisfactorily. test Is the structure safe under test Yes No Clearence for further fabrication of flight hardware End Figure 3 Design flowchart loading and boundary conditions as well as interaction between various structural elements and the effect of adjoining structure which can not be adequately addressed while carrying out the detail sizing task. it is difficult to simulate in analysis the exact behaviour of joints and other complexities leading to high stress regions and gradients. which in turn may degrade the designed performance of the structure. assembly stresses. advanced analytical techniques and exhaustive analyses are carried out during the design phase. Qualification of structures through simulated loading and interfaces. the high costs and time involved in the qualification level test like fabrication and assembly of the prototype hardware. which are locked during the fabrication and are not accurately quantifiable. design. static displacements. for structures subjected to complex loading and complicated boundary conditions. if any Release of fabrication drawings Realisation of the hardware Qualification level structural Figure 4 Design optimisation stress. Though. This interplay between design. design input Material selection and type of construction. materials and structures are presently computerised and are effectively utilised to optimise a structure during its design phase based on 34 IE(I) Journal–AS . temperature STRUCTURES No Is the design OK Yes Materials Selection criteria Jointing Fabrication Availability Design and Analysis Design concepts Structural analysis Release of design drawings Review of design and correction. difficult boundary conditions and irregular boundaries. Also. However. In addition.Start Define configuration/constraints. load. three basic factors. establishes/demonstrates its ability to withstand design loads satisfactorily. which permits analysis with complex loading. the structure which are mainly subjected to compressive loading and prone to buckling at very low levels of stresses.

But now the time has come to explore structures beyond the conventional prevalence that has reached the plateau. safer and cheaper. can be foreseen in inflatable structures for space mission. Shape memory alloys. often. easily adapted to symmetric shapes and curved surfaces. soon. Inflatable structures are inflated to required size and shape mostly through inert gas injection. May 2007 . less expensive. inflatable ship for transportation of launch vehicle systems/subsystems. Health monitoring and clearance for reusability. namely : Inflatable and rigidisable structures. AEROSP ACE STRUCTURE — THE FUTURE AEROSPACE DEMANDS Presently the often–quoted requirements in space missions are fly faster. It is difficult to detail (a) material characterisation. Aerospace structures have to be designed with multi– disciplinary optimisation techniques as well. Use of inflatable boom as stiffeners. nano–material concept. It is imperative now to reverberate with the activities for newer material development that will prove the backbone for scientific growth through full utilisation of adaptive composite. The technology involved is capable of addressing various space requirements owing to the merits it possesses. highly ambitious space missions and programmes minimising space cost. It has significant edge over conventional structure. (c) identification of location for the injection point and associated injection pump. This promises smaller vehicle for a given payload or a heavier payload with available vehicle. Precision Inflatable Structures As long as conventional structures find place in space programme. along with the development of general methodology/ tool/ formulation for comprehensive analysis and its realisation of inflatable structure. Prediction of aging of structure travelling in adverse flight condition (like RLV moving out of atmosphere and re–entry in exactly a reverse regime). large (75%) package efficiency. Time is running out with the need for improvements in aerospace technology. Joint/rivet under thermal load condition. major technology drivers for aerospace include reducing launch volume. materials and structures. enabling the construction of space and surface infrastructure through modular elements. inherently self–correcting and less complex engineering. and Thermal isolation. Synchronisation of rocket and aero–plane design. higher. Interface joints— stress–free in thermal environments. Challenges are many but a few need mention here. and (f) prediction of its behaviour in space for longer period. (e) prediction with the consideration of zero gravity for the qualification of inflatable structures. Fatigue strength with respect to thermal cyclic load.rigs and fixtures and adaptors calls for alternatives to minimise the number of structural tests required for a launch vehicle. (d) impact threat of debris. it has become imperative for aerospace design practices to quickly dwell on and aspire for improvements and needs required for the future. and providing systems with integrated diagnostic and adaptive capabilities. Thermal buckling phenomenon under thermal and mechanical load. as shown in Figure 5. This paper restricts to highlight a few aspects. huge (50%) mass saving. and Elastic memory composite materials. low production cost and high reliability of deployment. These call for newer material development that can address to afore–mentioned issues. Self–healing / health monitoring structures employing. Virtual qualification testing of structures. inherently strong because of less number of joints. such that. Damage tolerant design for light weight structures. piezo–electric fibre and actuator to make structure self–diagnostic and smart. Aerospace designers are now forced to come out of the cocoon that they had woven around themselves: the cocoon of design. extending the performance and lifetime of systems operating in extreme environments. such as. A few major challenges are Thermo–mechanical behaviour of structures at re– entry for reusable launch vehicle. Large number of applications. The list is endless. and favourable dynamics and thermal response. (b) joints design and the interfacing with the conventional structure. and Multi–disciplinary design optimisation of structures. In addition to it. Inflatable structure is one among such unconventional structures. 35 Vol 88. scientific community paralelly keep striving to optimise the structure to meet the stringent requirement.

The shape memory effect is observed when the temperature of a piece of shape memory alloy is cooled to below the temperature Mf . Products fabricated from these materials can be deformed and reformed repeatedly. a temperature change of only about 10oC is sufficient to initiate this phase change. which occurs in the shape memory alloy. The elastic memory matrix is a fully cured polymer. is the first idea which comes to mind. The two unique properties described are made possible through a solid state phase change. are martensite and austenite. but the molecules remain closely packed so that the substance remains a 36 IE(I) Journal–AS . Elastic memory composite (EMC) materials are now developed which enables the practical use of the shape memory properties in fibre–reinforced composites and other speciality materials. Components of machinery made of a SMA can not be cycled through the same loading (twisting. inflatable auditorium etc. stretching etc) many times. shape memory alloyed structure can be imparted good aesthetics by attaching proper inflatable covering which will prevent any damage to the system by avoiding any sharp corner of robot through a smooth and symmetric inflatable attachment. the shape memory characteristics enable the high packaging strains to be ‘frozen’ into the EMC by cooling. For the use of robotics. But still much to be done and research should be continued. inflatable catapult (an aid for smooth separation). The unique properties of the matrix enable EMC materials to achieve high packaging strains without damage. the original shape can be recovered simply by heating the wire above the temperature of Af . the alloy is completely composed of martensite. Shape memory effect is currently being utilised in aerospace actuators and satellite release bolts. After deforming the material. At this stage. A solid state phase change. the performance of EMC materials follows classical composite laminate theory. similar to heat melting ice into water. These alloys are still relatively expensive to manufacture and machine compared to other materials. Adequately addressing the mechanics of the ‘soft–resin’ will enable the EMC materials to provide repeatable stowage and deployment performance without any damage and or changes in performance. The two solid phases. The heat transferred to the wire is the power driving the molecular rearrangement of the alloy. ie. Figure 5 T ypical applications of inflatable structures Typical sheathing for transporting temporarily assembled space structures to launch pad.solid. Deployment (ie. but the alloy remains solid. a molecular rearrangement. which occur in shape memory alloys. which is configured in the original shape of the wire. while a steel piece. The deformed martensite is now transformed to the cubic austenite phase. However. is similar in that a molecular rearrangement occurs. In most shape memory alloys. which can be easily deformed. A few experiments have already been conducted by the developed countries like putting inflatable re–entry and descent technology (IRDT) demonstrator into orbit and succeeded in gathering relevant researching data. steel and aluminum. pseudo-elasticity and the shape memory effect. The temperature at which these operations occur is adjustable. EMC materials are similar to traditional fibre–reinforced composites except for the use of an elastic memory thermoset resin–matrix. inflatable landing system for dropping space structure on moon. which must be overcome before they are to find wide applications in space structures. there are still some difficulties with shape memory alloys. and CuAlNi. which can be combined with a wide variety of fibre and particulate reinforcements and fillers. Fatigue is also a problem for shape memory alloys. shape recovery) is effected by elevating the temperature. The most effective and widely used alloys include NiTi (nickel–titanium). Typically. At lower temperatures. At higher temperatures. space habitation/space tourism. bending. floatation recovery system after splash down. such as. when one thinks of a phase change of a solid to liquid or liquid to gas change. Most SMAs survive 2000 cycles. for example. may withstand the same conditions for hundreds of thousands of cycles. which exhibit two very unique properties. EMCs exhibit dramatically reduced stiffnesses due to significant matrix softening of the resin. Self–healing/Health Monitoring Structures Employing S MA ’s and E MC SMA MA’s EMC Shape memory alloys (SMA) are metals. CuZnAl. Raising the temperature of the EMC material and then applying a mechanical force to induce strains.

performance enhancing and cost saving industrial and medical applications. most traditional materials used for deployable structures have only two of these three attributes. thermal. shelf–life. EMC materials are ideally suited for deployable components and structures because they possess high strain–to–failure ratios. use standard existing polymer and composite manufacturing processes. aerodynamics (Figure 7) along with the current practices of design optimisation.Products utilising EMC materials can be fabricated with conventional composite fabrication processes and tooling. May 2007 37 . possess widely adjustable deformation and reformation temperatures. The top and bottom flanges of the smart key lock into recesses provided in the OD of the flanges and efficiently function to prevent the interfacing structure from separating out on the application of external load. The aim of this concept developed is to prevent the effects of thermal stress caused due to temperature gradients in flanged joints. Also life cycle disciplines like manufacturability. deployable equipment for emergency and disaster relief. explosion hazard. no other external force is required. The fastener is held onto the flanges externally. a new design concept of ‘smart key’ is introduced. including mission–enabling components for spacecraft. suitable for repeated deformation and reformation cycles. such as. trajectory. maintain high strain capability when heated. Mutil–disciplinary Design Optimisation of Structures Multi–disciplinary design optimisation (MDO) of structures is a methodology that has evolved out of the need for combining the role of designers in the areas of propulsion. The new design concept arose from the modifications made to the typical bolted flanged joint. Thus. or environmental impact are not of concern. so that. toxicity. This mode of cure for a problem often entails use of special exotic design methods and costly materials. conventional joints can be adopted. regain original shape with applied heat. Here. control and guidance. and issues. chemical reaction. The smart key is the active fastener used in place of a bolt in the flanged joint of a launch vehicle. enable large volume reduction for packing. high specific modulus and low density. The applications for these revolutionary new materials are broad ranging. supportability and cost Structures Control and guidance MDO Propulsion Aerodynamics Thermal Trajectory Figure 7 Multi–disciplinary design optimisation Vol 88. and improvements in the performance of sports equipment. the smart key allows free radial movement and prevents any stress build up on the account of temperature. the joint with smart keys along with the slotted flanges function as good as any interfacing joint carrying external load without any influence of stress due to thermal effects. Stress–free Interface Joint for Aerospace Applications — a Design Concept using Smart Key Fastening T echnique Technique The design of joints in aerospace structures subjected to differential temperature is typically carried out with the interfacing joints tailored to compensate/withstand for thermal effects. In the conceptual design of the joint active fastener is meant by a fastener replacing the conventional bolt with one that allows radial freedom for the top flange. reform accurately to original shape. This helps in widening the input parameters during the conceptual design phase itself rather than working in a narrow environment. By contrast. The properties of EMC materials are summarised as can be formulated with low cost components. On the Figure 6 Smart key concept application of any temperature gradient to the top interfacing structure. The smart key is I–shaped (Figure 6) and is inserted radially from the outer diameter (OD) of the two interfacing flanges.

One way is to bring down the effect of load on structure. 38 IE(I) Journal–AS . reaching the structure from the inclement load by aerodynamics. It significantly calls for a new dimension in science and technology. 2004. Proceedings of the Colloquium on Multi–disciplinary Design Optimization. robust solutions are required for the flight hardware and decisions on a common platform have to be taken from a variety and large number of feasible solutions. CONCLUSIONS As contemplated. The major obstacle in implementing MDO technology is the complexity that it has to cater to. This. For reusable launch vehicles and for future space missions. Future ambitious missions crave for newer dimensions like comprehensive utilisation of novel and efficient structures like inflatable structures. January 28. This can be achieved if external load causes minimum excitation to the concerned structures through concepts like active cancellation. new concepts are coming up like ‘testing without testing’ or ‘testing through FE simulation’. All afore–mentioned issues refer to multi–disciplinary activities that exhort scientific community from all the disciplines to possess a total understanding of the future challenges and work as a team . MDO has now emerged as a new engineering discipline and plays a key role in the development of advanced aerospace vehicles. the decision variables are many. This would augur an era of low cost access to space. REFERENCE 1. Testing again poses lots of challenges. for the design and analysis. thrust oscillation and propulsion. so that. stiffening of path through the utilisation of various smart structures. in turn. objectives and constraints are expensive to evaluate. Therefore. MDO is quite unavoidable and has to be developed. and there are multi conflicting objectives. so challenges increase manifold. Thus. would alter the dynamic character of the path and bring down the excitation. important areas are elaborated for the point of view of present practices and future aspirations. structure and design are called for. intelligent structures/material etc and at the same time overcoming the associated difficulties. stronger and stiffer material that endorses the material related research towards self–reliance. Apart from it. VSSC. This salient point supports the better usage of lighter.analysis are included in the MDO concept. testing costs are exorbitantly high. prediction of the behaviour of structure will be much easier as structure experiences least excitation and fundamental theory would be sufficient. Since motto is ‘cheaper. better and faster’. In MDO. concepts like damage mechanics etc gains much importance to bolster various failure criteria and hence predicting correct margin of safety. payload gain should be maximised. Since. Studies on multi– objective optimisation with objective parameters depending on a whole lot of aerodynamic design parameters other than materials.