Title page for ETD etd-05302002-161341

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Stevens, Craig L
Author's Email Address crsteven@vt.edu
URN etd-05302002-161341
Title Design, Analysis, Fabrication, and Testing of a Nanosatellite Structure
Degree Master of Science
Department Aerospace and Ocean Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Hall, Christopher D. Committee Chair
Hallauer, William L. Jr. Committee Member
Johnson, Eric R. Committee Member
  • Structural
  • Satellite
  • Environmental
  • Isogrid
  • Modal
Date of Defense 2002-05-28
Availability unrestricted

The satellite industry is undergoing a transition toward "smallsat" engineering. Small satellites are becoming more attractive to customers as a method of decreasing cost. As the launch costs remain relatively constant, the industry is turning towards nano-technology, such as microelectromechanical systems, and distributed satellite systems to perform the same missions that once required super-satellites. Nanosatellites form one group of these high risk/low cost spacecraft. The Virginia Tech Ionospheric Scintillation Measurement Mission, known as HokieSat, is a 40 lb nanosatellite being designed and built by graduate and undergraduate students. The satellite is part of the Ionospheric Observation Nanosatellite Formation (ION-F) which will perform ionospheric measurements and conduct formation flying experiments. This thesis describes the design of the primary satellite structure, the analysis used to arrive at the design, the fabrication of the structure, and the experimentation used to verify the analysis. We also describe the internal and external configurations of the spacecraft and how we estimate the mass properties of the integrated satellite.

The design of the spacecraft uses a composite laminate isogrid structure as a method of structural optimization. This optimization method is shown to increase the structural performance by over 20%. We conduct several finite element analyses to verify the structural integrity. We correlate these analyses with several static and modal tests to verify the models and the model boundary conditions. We perform environmental testing on the integrated spacecraft at NASA Wallops Flight Facility to investigate the properties of the structural assembly. Finally, we create a model of the ION-F stack to verify the integrity of the structure at the launch loads. We prove that the HokieSat structure will survive all environmental loads with no yielding or failures.

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