Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Jonathan Black, PhD


The Rigidizable Inflatable Get-Away-Special EXperiment (RIGEX) Space Shuttle experiment was run successfully onboard STS-123 (Endeavour) in March 2008. The objective of this thesis is to analyze the space flight and post space flight test data, correlate the data to previous ground tests, and update finite element models. In turn, this research will help demonstrate the feasibility of using lightweight and low stowage volume (high packaging ratio) inflatable/rigidizable space structures in remote sensing applications. RIGEX was an Air Force Institute of Technology graduate-student-built Space Shuttle cargo bay experiment intended to heat and inflate three 20-inch long carbon fiber tubes in a microgravity environment. Designed to measure the individual tubes' structural characteristics and deployed configuration, pressure, temperature, vibration response, and physical alignment data were all collected successfully on-orbit and are presented in comparison to pre- and post flight ground test data. Using the space and ground test results, previously developed finite element models of the tubes are updated and models of mission oriented structures are created for trade study purposes. RIGEX successfully accomplished its mission statement by validating the heating and inflation methods of the inflatable/rigidizable tubes, and successfully met all other primary and secondary research objectives.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number