M22010 – Structural Applications of the Finite Element Method
In a space mission the payload is located in the upper part of the launcher inside the fairing; a
typical example of payload is a satellite.
The satellite is interfaced with the launcher via a Payload Adapter Systems (PAS). The PAS has
the shape of a simple truncated cone (Figure 1) or truncated cone with a cylindrical shape on top
of this (Figure 2).
Figure 1: PAS 937S for Ariane V [from Ariane V: User’s Manual]
Figure 2: PAS 1663 for Ariane V [from Ariane V: User’s Manual]
The role of the PAS is to keep the satellite in position during the take off and flight phase;
furthermore the PAS preserves the satellite from any shock and damage that could lead to a
mission failure. The satellite is secured on the top of the PAS above what is called the separation
plane (height of the PAS).
M22010 – Structural Applications of the Finite
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Coursework brief: Design Verification Task
The European Space Agency (ESA) has tasked your group to verify the design of a Payload
Adapter Systems (PAS). You can select any of the existing design for one of the following
launchers (Figure 3):
Figure 3: Arianespace Launchers [from www.arianespace.com/]
Specification for the Design Verification:
You can make some simplifications on the original structure as you see appropriate.
You need to verify the design of the structure using the finite element method and perform
a series of numerical analyses using ABAQUS. The series of analyses taken into
consideration must be justified and discussed, i.e. the relevance of considering/neglecting
one of the analyses discussed during the unit must be justified.
You will refer to the launcher User’s manual (available either on the Module Moodle page
or online at the links reported in the footnote1
) to get information about the acceleration
experienced during the launch and flight phase, the level of vibrations acting on the
In your analyses you will consider an appropriate mass for a satellite to be mounted on
the selected PAS above the separation plane, in order to maximize the load capacity of
the launcher for a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).
1 Ariane V – User’s manual:
Soyuz – User’s manual: https://www.arianespace.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Soyuz-UsersManuel-issue2-
Vega C – User’s manual:
The online submission is composed by two mandatory parts:
- You will produce a report in the form of a PowerPoint (or equivalent) presentation (max 30
slides) including your design assumptions, analytical calculations (if any), details about
finite element analyses performed, results, including a discussion and interpretation of
- The “.cae” file (or multiple .cae files) that make it possible to reproduce the analyses
mentioned in the presentation.