Design and analysis of multifunctional composite structures for nano-satellites
The aim of this thesis is to investigate the applications of multifunctional compos- ite (MFC) technology to nano-satellite structures and to produce a working concept design, which can be implemented on future Cube-Satellites (CubeSats). MFC tech- nologies can be used to optimise the performance of the satellite structure in terms of mass, volume and the protection it provides. The optimisation of the structure will allow further room for other sub-systems to be expanded and greater payload allowance. An extensive literature view of existing applications of MFC materials has been conducted, along with the analysis of a MFC CubeSat structural design account- ing for the environmental conditions in space and well-known design practices used in the space industry. Numerical analysis data has been supported by empirical analysis that was done where possible on the concept material and structure. The ndings indicate that the MFC technology shows an improvement over the conventional alu- minium structures that are currently being used. Improvements in rigidity, mass and internal volume were observed. Additional functions that the MFC structure o ers include electrical circuitry and connections through the material itself, as well as an increase electromagnetic shielding capability through the use of carbon- bre composite materials. Empirical data collected on the MFC samples also show good support for the numerical analysis results. The main conclusion to be drawn from this work is that multifunctional composite materials can indeed be used for nano-satellite structures and in the same light, can be tailor-made to the speci c mission requirements of the satellite. The technology is in its infancy still and has vast room for improvement and technological development beyond this work and well into the future. Further improvements and additional functions can be added through the inclusion of various other materials.