Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard G. Cobb, PhD


As the demand for larger space structures increases, complications arise including physical dimensions, weight, and launch costs. These constraints have forced the space industry to look for smaller, more lightweight, and cost-effective solutions. Future antennas, solar sails, sun shields, and other structures have the potential to be exponentially larger than their launch envelopes. Current research in this area is focused on the use of inflatable, rigidizable structures to reduce payload size and mass, ultimately reducing launch costs. These structures can be used as booms, trusses, wings, or can be configured to almost any simple shape. More complex shapes can be constructed by joining smaller rigidizable/inflatable members together. Analysis of these structures must be accomplished to validate the technology and gather risk mitigation data before they can be widely used in space applications. The Rigidizable, Inflatable, Get-Away-Special Experiment (RIGEX) was created to test structures that meet the aforementioned demand for smaller, more lightweight, and cost effective solutions to launching payloads into space. The purpose of this experiment is to analyze the effects of the space environment on inflatable, rigidizable structural components and validate ground-test procedures for these structures. This thesis primarily details the pressurization system enhancements and validates thermal performance for RIGEX. These enhancements and the increased knowledge of the thermal properties will improve the probability of experiment success.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number