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Static stability of a three-dimensional space trussIn order to deploy large flexible space structures it is necessary to develop support systems that are strong and lightweight. The most recent example of this aerospace design need is vividly evident in the space station solar array assembly. In order to accommodate both weight limitations and strength performance criteria, ABLE Engineering has developed the Folding Articulating Square Truss (FASTMast) support structure. The FASTMast is a space truss/mechanism hybrid that can provide system support while adhering to stringent packaging demands. However, due to its slender nature and anticipated loading, stability characterization is a critical part of the design process. Furthermore, the dire consequences surely to result from a catastrophic instability quickly provide the motivation for careful examination of this problem. The fundamental components of the space station solar array system are the (1) solar array blanket system, (2) FASTMast support structure, and (3) mast canister assembly. The FASTMast once fully deployed from the canister will provide support to the solar array blankets. A unique feature of this structure is that the system responds linearly within a certain range of operating loads and nonlinearly when that range is exceeded. The source of nonlinear behavior in this case is due to a changing stiffness state resulting from an inability of diagonal members to resist applied loads. The principal objective of this study was to establish the failure modes involving instability of the FASTMast structure. Also of great interest during this effort was to establish a reliable analytical approach capable of effectively predicting critical values at which the mast becomes unstable. Due to the dual nature of structural response inherent to this problem, both linear and nonlinear analyses are required to characterize the mast in terms of stability. The approach employed herein is one that can be considered systematic in nature. The analysis begins with one and two-dimensional failure models of the system and its important components. From knowledge gained through preliminary analyses a foundation is developed for three-dimensional analyses of the FASTMast structure. The three-dimensional finite element (FE) analysis presented here involves a FASTMast system one-tenth the size of the actual flight unit. Although this study does not yield failure analysis results that apply directly to the flight article, it does establish a method by which the full-scale mast can be evaluated.
Document ID
Document Type
Shaker, John F. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 1995
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:106944
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 478-42-10
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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