Lucas W. Just

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Anthony N. Palazotto, PhD.


The creation of a lighter than air vehicle using an inner vacuum instead of a lifting gas is considered. Specifically, the icosahedron shape is investigated as a design that will enable the structure to achieve positive buoyancy while resisting collapse from the atmospheric pressure applied. This research analyzes the dynamic response characteristics of the design, and examines the accuracy of the finite element model used in previous research by conducting experimental testing. The techniques incorporated in the finite element model are confirmed based on the experimental results using a modal analysis. The experimental setup designed will allow future research on the interaction between the frame and skin of icosahedron like structures using various combinations of materials and construction methods. Additionally, a snapback behavior observed in previous static response analysis is further investigated to determine nonlinear instability issues with the design. Dynamic analysis of the structure reveals chaotic motion is present in the frame of the icosahedron under certain loads and boundary conditions. These findings provide information critical to the design of an icosahedron shaped lighter than air vehicle using an inner vacuum.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number