Buckling Behavior of Conical-Cylindrical Shells and Design Considerations for Launch-Vehicle Applications

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Traditionally, launch vehicles are constructed with a series of buckling-prone thin-walled cylindrical and conical shells, in which the buckling behavior of these shells has been well studied and buckling design guidance exists. Conical-cylindrical shell geometry is now being utilized for launch-vehicle stage adapters and payload adapters due to advances in manufacturing and numerical techniques, but there is no available buckling design guidance for this nontraditional combined geometry. In order to provide design recommendations, the buckling behavior and imperfection sensitivity of conical-cylindrical shells and how it differs from the conical and cylindrical components needs to be better understood. From this premise, it is possible to investigate whether or not the buckling knockdown factor guidelines for conical and cylindrical shells outlined in NASA SP-8019 and NASA SP-8007, respectively, are still applicable. The results in this paper will show that the current recommendations are not appropriate in some cases. In addition, it was observed that the large rotations and displacements near the transition between the cone and cylinder can have a larger effect on the buckling load than the presence of radial imperfections for conical-cylindrical shells, which is different than for conical or cylindrical shells. More interesting is the fact that design modifications to increase the buckling capability of a conical-cylindrical shell such as adding reinforcement, which may add mass, will make the shell more sensitive to imperfections. The increased imperfection sensitivity may negate the increase in buckling capability that was thought to be achievable. In the end, it may be more beneficial to design a conical-cylindrical shell in which the buckling behavior is dominated by the more predictable geometric nonlinearity, which may lead to an overall lower buckling load, but a lower knockdown factor may be possible since it will not be as sensitive to the lessknown radial imperfections.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition, 2024
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA)
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781624107115
Publication statusPublished - 2024
EventAIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition, 2024 - Orlando, United States
Duration: 8 Jan 202412 Jan 2024

Publication series

NameAIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition, 2024


ConferenceAIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition, 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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