Multibody models with flexible components for inflatable space structures

  • Petrolo, Marco (MUL2 Group, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino) ;
  • Governale, Giorgio (MUL2 Group, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino) ;
  • Catelani, Daniele (MSC Software srl) ;
  • Carrera, Erasmo (MUL2 Group, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino)
  • Received : 2018.01.19
  • Accepted : 2018.02.27
  • Published : 2018.11.25


This work has the objective to analyze multibody mechanisms of inflatable structures for manned space applications. The focus is on the evaluation of the main characteristics of MaxFlex, a new module of MSC Adams including the effect of nonlinear flexible bodies. MaxFlex integrates the nonlinear Finite Element Analysis (FEA) of Nastran-SOL400-and the Adams multibody capabilities in one unique solver, providing an improvement concerning the concept and technology based on the co-simulation among solvers. MaxFlex converts the equations of motion of the nonlinear FEA into phase-space form and discretizes them according to the multibody system integrator framework. The numerical results deal with an inflatable manned space module having rigid components and a flexible coating made of Kevlar. This paper is a preliminary assessment of the computational capabilities of the software and does not provide realistic guidelines for the actual design of the structure. The analysis leads to some recommendations related to the main issues to consider in a nonlinear simulation including both rigid and flexible components. The results underline the importance of realistic deployment times and applied forces. Also, a proper structural modeling is necessary, but can lead to excessive computational overheads.



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