Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard G. Cobb, PhD


As greater capability is demanded of space-based assets, their size and complexity are growing. Inflatable, rigidizable structures offer significant improvements in the areas of weight, size, and complexity over traditional mechanically deployed systems. These structures are not well understood and little testing of them has been done in the space environment. Widespread acceptance of these technologies will not be achieved without significant reduction in the risk of using inflatable, rigidizable structures in space. The goal of this experiment is to verify and validate ground testing of small tubular truss structures for use in space. This experiment builds on previous research done in this area to reduce the risks involved in testing inflatable, rigidizable structures in space. The Rigidizable Inflatable Get-Away-Special Experiment (RIGEX) is designed to launch as a self-contained experiment on the Space Shuttle. It will inflate and rigidize three redundant experiments in the open space environment. Once these structures are deployed and rigidized, the experiment will vibrationally excite the deployed structures and record the vibrational response. This thesis produced test equipment that would meet the RIGEX Concept of Operations and conducted testing to gain an understanding of the heating, pressurization, and inflation systems of the RIGEX experiment to avoid mission failure. Appendixes contain the following: system weight tabulations, heating test results, inflation test results, success criteria, DoD SERB briefing slides, system architecture, updated NASA payload accommodations requirements, and inflation system calculations. The accommodation plan defines the technical agreement between NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and the Getaway Special Canister (GAS) customer concerning the unique information needed for the preparation, flight, and disposition of the GAS payload. (12 tables, 32 figures, 32 refs.)

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