The University of Southampton
Engineering and the EnvironmentOur research

Spacecraft structures group

Effective spacecraft design is all about being able to maximise strength, capability and endurance whilst minimising overall mass (and cost).  One key area in achieving this is the optimisation of the spacecraft structure.

Particular areas of expertise for the group include:

All satellite structures and components must withstand the launch vibration environment to successfully function in orbit and therefore their survivability needs to be validated. Along with performing research into the dynamics of satellite structures and components the group supports the experimental dynamic testing, development and validation of satellite subsystems for the research group and industry.

The group also conducts innovative work into the field of deployable structures; focusing on inflatable structures and, more specifically, hybrid structures which add compressible structural stiffeners to the inflatable structure allowing it to be used for things such as communication booms or as a support for solar arrays.  Extensive work has also been done looking at the application of tape spring folds as hinges for large-scale deployable structures.

Multifunctional structure technology can deliver a significant reduction in spacecraft mass and size by developing structures that can also carry out various spacecraft functions.  The group, working with industrial partners, has already demonstrated how battery cells can be integrated into load-bearing panels, and now research is continuing into other potential areas such as the electronics systems.

Our research strengths

Space environment

Remote sensing

Space systems engineering

Artificial intelligence, spacecraft autonomy and control

Hybrid inflatable structure
A multifunctional spacecraft structure developed here at the University of Southampton
Multifunctional structure

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