Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard G. Cobb, PhD


The purpose of this research was to validate the structural integrity of the Rigidizable Inflatable Get-Away-Special Experiment (RIGEX) and make appropriate improvements to the design, motivated by static and dynamic analysis results. RIGEX is designed to advance the use of rigidizable inflatable structures in the space environment by providing three sets of on-orbit test data on the structural characteristics of three thermoplastic composite tubes. This thesis discusses the RIGEX structural analysis. The term structural analysis refers to the development of a detailed finite element model and the tests for which the model was used. The finite element model provided an acceptable estimation of RIGEX's natural frequencies, the structural integrity of the fastener system, the maximum stress seen by the aluminum primary structure, and the maximum possible displacements at various locations around the RIGEX structure for various load conditions. These three analyses motivated numerous design changes, which are discussed in detail in this thesis. The analysis process was repeated following each design change until all structural integrity and design criteria were met. In addition to the structural analysis and associated design changes, this thesis presents the as built RIGEX drawing package and wiring schematic. The results presented in this thesis are the first step towards passing the structural integrity requirements set forth by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for manned spaceflight. Recommendations of appropriate construction and testing techniques to ensure the actual structure matches the computer model are discussed.

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DTIC Accession Number