The design of any launch vehicle fuselage structure must meet stringent weight requirements in an unforgiving thermal and inertial load environment.
These loads are derived from various sources, wind loads on the launch pad, dynamic loads on lift-off, shock loads during staging and payload separation maneuvers and aerodynamic loads encountered during passage through the atmosphere.
During the Cold War, the use of carbon fibre matrix composites, possessing excellent strength to weight properties was not an option. Today, carbon-fibre is a matured technology offering significant advantages in strength at reduced weight. Nevertheless thermal constraints due to either heat or cold at various locations, still necessitates the use of higher temperature materials such as aluminium and steel.
Designing and developing fuselage structures in commercial solid modelling packages, we use the latest Finite Element Analysis algorithms to characterize the anticipated stresses encountered during launch. In the high dynamic and vibratory environment of launch, these analyses invariably require non-linear transient dynamic techniques.