Jonathan Rowe: Development of Finite Element Models of Warping Inflatable Wings

Grants and Contracts Details


DEVELOPMENT OF A FINITE ELEMENT MODEL OF WARPING INFLATABLE WINGS Suzanne W. Smith and Johnathan Rowe Mechanical Engineering Department University of Kentucky Lexington, KY Feb 14,2006 Abstract A research project to develop and verify a finite element model of inflatable warping wings is proposed. Inflatable wings have many applications due to their ability to pack into small volumes then deploy quickly when needed. One prominent application currently being proposed by NASA is use of inflatable wings is on an unmanned Mars airplane exploratory mission. Currently, methods to warp these inflatable wings to provide roll control to an aircraft employing them are being investigated. In order to quickly and effectively analyze the effect of aerodynamic loading on inflatable wings, a detailed finite element model is required. Such a model would also allow analysis of the response of the wings to various warping actuation forces, including both smart materials and more conventional methods. An initial model of an inflatable wing system, which involves fabric material properties, internal pressurization, and non-linear deformations, has been created. Validation of the model to experimental loading cases is required. Once this validation is complete, aerodynamic loads will be applied to the model, and further validation of model results to wind tunnel testing and field flight tests will follow. Various warping configurations will then be applied to the final finite element model, to predict wing responses to warping and aerodynamic loads. The development of such a model will greatly enhance NASA's ability to evaluate the use of inflatable wings in Mars aircrafts.
Effective start/end date8/1/068/31/07


  • Western Kentucky University: $18,000.00


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