Application and Simulation of Inflatable Structures for Manned and Unmanned Space Vehicles
It is a well-known fact that space structures must fulfill both mass and volume requirements: reduced mass would permits more propellant as well as reduced volume demands for a smaller launcher cargo-bay. The development of structures made by advanced lighter materials consists of a key point for mass reduction. Two main techniques are instead available to reduced volume of space vehicles payloads. These are based on deployable and inflatable structures IS technology, respectively.
An important advantage of the IS consists in the possibility to exploit a habitable volume and surfaces greater than the one offered by traditional metallic space modules. In particular, manned IS can be seen as a convenient way to accomplish long-term manned space missions, like planets explorations, to permit the availability of manned modules attached to the ISS (International Space Station), to construct manned Free-Flyer on Low Earth Orbit and permanent bases on other planets. The use of IS appears mandatory to provide the necessary volume (which has been estimated to be around 500 m^2) for a Mars manned mission of 5/6 persons.
In this presentation is reported the contribution of MUL2 group in the inflatable structure field.