Surface Precision of Inflatable Membrane Reflectors

[+] Author and Article Information
C. H. Jenkins

Compliant Structures Laboratory, Mechanical Engineering Department, SD School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD 57701

D. K. Marker

AF Phillips Laboratory, Albuquerque, NM 87117

J. Sol. Energy Eng 120(4), 298-305 (Nov 01, 1998) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2888134 History: Received September 01, 1997; Revised April 01, 1998; Online February 14, 2008


Space-based inflatable technology is of current interest to NASA and DOD, and in particular to the Air Force and Phillips Laboratory. Potentially large gains in lowering launch costs, through reductions in structure mass and volume, are driving this activity. Diverse groups are researching and developing this technology for radio and radar antennae, optical telescopes, and solar power and propulsion applications. Regardless of the use, one common requirement for successful application is the accuracy of the inflated surface shape. The work reported here concerns the shape control of an inflated thin circular disk through use of a nonlinear finite element analysis. First, a review of the important associated Hencky problem is given. Then we discuss a shape modification, achieved through enforced boundary displacements, which resulted in moving the inflated shape towards a desired parabolic profile. Minimization of the figure error is discussed and conclusions are drawn.

Copyright © 1998 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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