3.5.4 Main Takeaways on Spacecraft Structural Elements

Course subject(s) Module 3. Aerospace Structures

Within Space Structures there are two groups: the launch vehicles that get satellites and other payload into space and space structures that actually operate in space such as the Soyuz capsule, satellites, the International Space Station and so on.

  • The primary structural elements of a spacecraft depend on type of spacecraft: polar platforms have a central load bearing cone or cylinder and strutted structures have truss structure.
  • The primary structural elements of a launch vehicle are: the fairings, the stage structure, the thrust structure and the adaptors.

Fairings protect the payload against the aggressive environment

The stage structure are the primary load bearing structure. The fuel tanks are either part of the primary structure and therefore load bearing, or a distinction is made with a primary load bearing structure and a separate internal fuel tank.

Thrust Structures transfer the thrust from the engine to the rest of the launch vehicle

Adaptors transfer the load from the launch vehicle to the payload.

[Photo by NASA, Public Domain]

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