Spacecraft Structures

Module aims

This course aims to present state-of-the-art methodologies for the design of spacecraft structures, from launchers to satellite platforms and to habitable inflatable modules. The fundamental knowledge provided in this course will involve: 

1) the understanding of how hazardous spacecraft-environment interactions can be predicted and mitigated at material and structural level;
2) awareness of design methods and certification requirements for both structures and payloads that can successfully withstand launch and insertion into orbit;
3) the understanding of the operational principles for deployable structures in space applications and of the relevant design strategies.


Learning outcomes

•    To be aware of the issues related to structural design for space
•    To have a good understanding of the standard structural qualification process for spacecraft systems
•    To achieve a good command of advanced structural analysis methods applicable to the design of static and deployable structures

Module syllabus

Spacecraft-Environment Interactions:
•    Thermal Environment
•    Outgassing, erosion and contamination
•    Effects of plasma and radiation
•    Micrometeoroids and debris

Launch and deployment loading:
•    Quasi-static loading
•    Sinusoidal loading and frequency response
•    Random loading and Miles’ Equation
•    Shock loading and Shock Response Spectra

Deployable Structures:

•    Deployable Structure classification
•    Conventional Mechanisms
•    Compliant Mechanisms and post-buckling
•    Membrane Structures


AERO50008 Structures 2

Teaching methods

Lectures and tutorials.


Examined Assessment
2 hour written examination in January.


Reading list

Supplementary texts