- Conference date: 26-30 Jan 1997
- Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA)
The use of graphite-composites as primary structure is essential for the development of a cost effective single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle (RLV) to replace the Space Shuttle. A full-scale segment of a graphite-composite wing was designed and fabricated by an industry team and tested at NASA Langley Research Center as a part of the RLV technology development program. The wing-box test component was 1.5 m wide by 3.0 m long and 1.1 m deep. It was construction from honeycomb sandwich panels with graphite-bisaleimide composite skins. The test component was loaded to design limit load in reverse bending followed by a test to design ultimate load, also in reverse bending. It was then loaded to failure. Resistance and fiber optic gages were used to measure strains in the wing box section during the test. A comprehensive finite element analysis of the specimen was performed. The test results verified the structural integrity of the wing-box component for RLV design loads, and good correlation between test and analysis was obtained. Both the failure location and the failure load were accurately predicted by the analysis.
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