Aeromechanics of inflatable airfoils

Andrew Simpson, Michiko Usui, Jamey Jacob, Suzanne Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The BIG BLUE (Baseline Inflatable Glider Balloon-Launched Unmanned Experiment) project at the University of Kentucky under a NASA Workforce Development Grant has a primary objective of promoting aerospace careers to undergraduate students. The goal of the project was to flight-test a high-altitude aircraft with inflatable/rigidizable wings to determine concept feasibility for a Mars explorer mission. The wings will be stowed in the fuselage, inflate during ascent, and rigidize with exposure to UV light. The vehicle will descend as a glider with only tail control. Ease of manufacturing is the primary design constraint in choosing the wing profile. Results from combined XFoil and ANSYS analyses on multiple profiles are presented. The E398 profile was selected and has been tested with ideal and inflatable profiles in a wind tunnel at flight conditions. Results from lift/drag tests are presented. A summary of future and current work on inflatable airfoils at the University of Kentucky is reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication34th AIAA Fluid Dynamics Conference and Exhibit
StatePublished - 2004
Event34th AIAA Fluid Dynamics Conference and Exhibit 2004 - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Jun 28 2004Jul 1 2004

Publication series

Name34th AIAA Fluid Dynamics Conference and Exhibit


Conference34th AIAA Fluid Dynamics Conference and Exhibit 2004
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPortland, OR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Aerospace Engineering


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