UCI MAE-152: SpaceX Falcon 9 Landing Gear Finite Element Analysis
September 2017 - December 2017
Our group decided to model and analyze the SpaceX Falcon 1 Rocket. The rocket’s purpose is to carry a payload into low earth orbit and, at its time, was critical in establishing SpaceX as a source of launches. A challenge we are taking on is adding and validating landing legs for the Falcon 1 rocket just like that of it’s larger counterpart: the Falcon 9. Along with modeling the rocket with many of its internals, we will simulate and optimize particular components with different sets of FEA techniques. We chose to pursue a rocket because of the many different mechanisms at play in its operation. Dynamically, loads such as the acceleration of the whole structure need to be dealt with and not cause buckling. Thermally, immense heats and pressures need to be controlled. With delicate hardware on board, the concerns of resonance and vibrations also arise and should be considered. The parts we will be focusing on simulating and optimizing are as follows: the landing gear, the fairing halves, pressure vessels held within the fuel tanks, combustion chamber liner, and the main body tube. We will briefly describe each components purpose and the intended simulation and optimization. Simulations for each component:
Landing gear: Static structural and shock analysis, one for the initial landing and one for maintaining the rocket upright once landed.
Fairing Halves: The thin fairings are susceptible to vibrations so modal analysis will be done to understand what frequencies may need to be damped, if present.
Pressure Vessels: Small vessels containing liquid gas and under very high pressure to minimize room taken up that could be used for additional fuel.
Combustion Chamber Liner: With the fuel combustion the heat generated needs to be dissipated so thermal analysis will be done to test various materials.
Main Body Tube: Acceleration loading and static loading will try to buckle the rocket in operation.
My Role and Contribution: Falcon 9 Landing Gear FEA
My main contribution to this project was the FEA on the Falcon 9 Landing Gear. For the landing gear, both a static structural and shock analysis will be performed on the model. The sources of stress are derived from three regions, these being:
1) The hinged connection that mates the landing gear to the main body tube.
2) The landing gear contact region with the ground.
3) The mated connection between the landing gear and the telescopic extender.
MAE-152 SpaceX Falcon 9 FEA Final Video