Fluid-structure interaction simulations of a tension-cone inflatable aerodynamic decelerator

R. M.J. Kramer, F. Cirak, C. Pantano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A series of fluid-structure interaction simulations of an aerodynamic tension-cone supersonic decelerator prototype intended for large mass payload deployment in planetary explorations are discussed. The fluid-structure interaction computations combine large deformation analysis of thin shells with large-eddy simulation of compressible turbulent flows using a loosely coupled approach to enable quantification of the dynamics of the vehicle. The simulation results are compared with experiments carried out at the NASA Glenn Research Center. Reasonably good agreement between the simulations and the experiment is observed throughout a deflation cycle. The simulations help to illuminate the details of the dynamic progressive buckling of the tension-cone decelerator that ultimately results in the collapse of the structure as the inflation pressure is decreased. Furthermore, the tension-cone decelerator exhibits a transient oscillatory behavior under impulsive loading that ultimately dies out. The frequency of these oscillations was determined to be related to the acoustic time scale in the compressed subsonic region between the bow shock and the structure. As shown, when the natural frequency of the structure and the frequency of the compressed subsonic region approximately match, the decelerator exhibits relatively large nonaxisymetric oscillations. The observed response appears to be a fluid-structure interaction resonance resulting from an acoustic chamber (pistonlike) mode exciting the structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1640-1656
Number of pages17
JournalAIAA journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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