Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8903-5984

Year of Publication

2021

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Engineering

Department/School/Program

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Alexandre Martin

Abstract

STRUCTURAL OPTIMIZATION OF SPACE TRANSIT VEHICLE CONCEPT, HERCULES:

A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF STRUCTURAL OPTIONS

Hercules is a vehicle concept developed by NASA Langley's Vehicle Analysis Branch to satisfy the need for sustainable transit between Earth, the moon, and Mars. Hercules features unprecedented abort capabilities and mission flexibility to aid in NASA's Mars campaign. By utilizing modern software to perform structural analysis and optimization for a large selection of stiffened panel concepts, beam concepts, and materials trends in the structural optimization emerge. These trends will be invaluable for the design of future spacecraft needed to fulfill similar roles.

The structural optimization involves accounting for several operational requirements. These include docking with NASA's future lunar gateway station, Earth ascent onboard a heavy lift delivery system to break orbit, the skin pressure distribution to mimic Mars atmospheric entry, landing on Mars' surface, and leaving Mars' surface under its own thrust. Additional analysis was performed to satisfy operational requirements for crew abort on Mars, as well as a unique payload positioning feature for the Martian surface. Where relevant, these structural design requirements were analyzed with various levels of fuel mass and payload types (manned and unmanned). This research was made possible by assistance from NASA Langley's Vehicle Analysis Branch.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2022.049

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