Analysis and validation of a scaled, launch-vehicle-like composite cylinder under axial compression

Michelle Tillotson Rudd, David J. Eberlein, W. Allen Waters, Nathaniel W. Gardner, Marc R. Schultz, Chiara Bisagni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
65 Downloads (Pure)


Launch vehicle structures, such as payload adapters and interstages, are increasingly designed and constructed using composite materials due to their high stiffness- and strength-to-weight ratios. Therefore, it is important to develop a validated finite element modeling methodology for designing and analyzing composite launch-vehicle shell structures. This can be achieved, in part, by correlating high-fidelity numerical models with test data. Buckling is often an important failure mode for cylindrical shells, and the buckling response of such structures is also often quite sensitive to imperfections in geometry and loading. Hence, it is crucial to understand the model parameters and details required to accurately predict the buckling load and behavior of composite cylindrical shells, especially if the shell is buckling critical. The inclusion of as-built features, such as radial imperfections, thickness variations, and loading imperfections can help improve the correlation between test and analysis. To demonstrate such an approach, a validated modeling methodology that was used to predict the buckling behavior of a scaled component for a launch-vehicle-like structure is presented, and results from the model are compared with experimental results. The modeling approach presented herein was used to successfully predict the buckling behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116393
JournalComposite Structures
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Buckling propagation
  • Composite cylindrical shell
  • Measured imperfection
  • Test
  • Unconventional layup


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