M22010 – Structural Applications of the Finite Element Method

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Group Coursework

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
Element Analysis
2020-2021 Page | 2
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:

Coursework Requirements
The online submission is composed by two mandatory parts:

  1. 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
  2. The “.cae” file (or multiple .cae files) that make it possible to reproduce the analyses
    mentioned in the presentation.