Structural engineering is the literal backbone of spacecraft design. It is frequently taken for granted. However, proper structural design, analysis and test is foundational for getting to space and vital for mission success. All aspects of a spacecraft are affected with loads driven by launch, extremes of temperatures, and the resulting gradients where traditional terrestrial technology frequently will not work.
Structural Engineers are involved in space missions right from the start all the way through to launch, on-orbit deployment and final handoff to the customer. They design and develop the bus that hosts the payload and ensure that the spacecraft would survive all the environments that it is likely to encounter from launch through to its release into the orbit.
With the high cost of getting mass into orbit, Structural Engineer’s role is to build the lightest spacecraft to carry the maximum payload. With the Return to Moon very much on the horizon, to be followed by the human landing on Mars and similar habitats, Space is exploding with commercial interest. New mission designs and systems requirements from this commercialization of are stretching existing technologies. That has also extended Structural Engineer’s responsibilities into new missions like on-orbit assembly, refueling of existing satellites, and inter-planetary habitats.
Besides the design and analysis, Structural Engineers are also involved in qualification and acceptance testing of structural components and systems. They also develop load requirements for electronic components and their verification by tests.
The Technical Talk will highlight the challenges faced by Structural Engineers in Space environment, give examples of varying loads to be considered in design, and the types of material utilized for optimum performance.
Mr. Rogers has over a decade of professional experience solving complex engineering problems. Though applying his trade in a multitude of industries over his career, his primary area of focus and passion has been in aerospace and astronautics – specifically in Space Technology. After working towards his private pilot license in high school and being accepted into Purdue’s esteemed flight school, Mr. Rogers decided to pivot and apply his passion to the engineering side of aerospace. Exposure to the space industry during internships with NASA and other space science institutes further galvanized his enthusiasm.
As a practicing engineer, Mr. Rogers has honed skills in Structural, Systems, and Thermal engineering. It is in the Structural discipline, which he thinks plays a critical and fundamental part in any design, that he has gained the majority of his experience. Applications ranging from experimental composite aircraft like the Stratolaunch carrier to advanced science spacecraft like James Webb Space Telescope and the future Psyche Orbiter are just some of the more well- known programs he has contributed to. Mr. Rogers’ expertise has been employed by a range of premier aerospace organizations including NASA, SpaceX, Maxar, Boeing, Airbus, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Air Force Research Laboratory, Raytheon Missile Systems, Viasat, and Northrop Grumman. Whether it be stress analysis, mass optimization, thermoelastic distortion predictions, or ground testing support Mr. Rogers has done it all.
Mr. Rogers is a lead aerospace and mechanical engineer at SC Solutions, a provider of advanced analysis and simulation engineering services. Previously, Mr. Rogers was with Space Dynamics Laboratory, Quartus Engineering, the University of Wisconsin Space Science & Engineering Center, and NASA. He is currently an advisor to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Robotics Technology Group, working to help guide US development and policy in this sector. He received his degree in Engineering Mechanics with a concentration in Astronautics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.