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Time-dependent strains and stresses in a pumpkin balloonThis paper presents a study of pumpkin-shaped superpressure balloons, consisting of gores made from a thin polymeric film attached to high stiffness, meridional tendons. This type of design is being used for the NASA ULDB balloons. The gore film shows considerable time-dependent stress relaxation, whereas the behaviour of the tendons is essentially time-independent. Upon inflation and pressurization, the "instantaneous", i.e. linear-elastic strain and stress distribution in the film show significantly higher values in the meridional direction. However, over time, and due to the biaxial visco-elastic stress relaxation of the the material, the hoop strains increase and the meridional stresses decrease, whereas the remaining strain and stress components remain substantially unchanged. These results are important for a correct assessment of the structural integrity of a pumpkin balloon in a long-duration mission, both in terms of the material performance and the overall stability of the shape of the balloon. An experimental investigation of the time dependence of the biaxial strain distribution in the film of a 4 m diameter, 48 gore pumpkin balloon is presented. The inflated shape of selected gores has been measured using photogrammetry and the time variation in strain components at some particular points of these gores has been measured under constant pressure and temperature. The results show good correlation with a numerical study, using the ABAQUS finite-element package, that includes a widely used model of the visco-elastic response of the gore material:
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Gerngross, T.
(Cambridge Univ. Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Xu, Y.
(Cambridge Univ. Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Pellegrino, S.
(Cambridge Univ. Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2006
Subject Category
Aeronautics (General)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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