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Vol. 41 (2000) No. 3 December n. 134

Inflatable Structures in Space Engineering

< Table of Contents for Vol. 41 (2000) No. 3 December n. 134
  • Journal Name: Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (J. IASS)
  • ISSN: (Electronic Version) 1996-9015
  • ISSN: (Print Version) 1028-365X
  • Issue: Vol. 41 (2000) No. 3 December n. 134
  • Pages: 177-190
  • Title: Inflatable Structures in Space Engineering
  • Author(s): A. Beukers, O. V. Mölder, C. A. J. R. Vermeeren
  • Keywords: Inflatable Structures, Space Structures, Deployable Structures, Pressurized Structures.
Because of the high structural efficiency of a tensile stressed pressurized lightweight membrane, an inflatable structure can be extremely lightweight. Moreover, it is collapsible and can be transported in a small volume. This and other favourable characteristics give inflatable structures some unique advantages over conventional structural forms, especially when extreme limitations are placed upon weight and volume for applications in architecture, aeronautics and space. For space applications, the decrease in volume and weight allow for smaller and lighter launch vehicles or an increased payload, thus reducing the costs of a space mission. Proposals for inflatable structures were already made in the early sixties. The widespread application of inflatables in aerospace engineering as well as other branches of industry was set back due to economical and technical constraints. Their high potential, however, has always retained interest. New advanced materials, manufacturing processes and computer technologies may solve still existing problems and give way to innovative applications. Successful test missions of an inflatable re-entry vehicle, an antenna and a concept for an inflatable space habitat illustrate this.

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