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Spacecraft designs for aeroplanes

Reductions in weight translate to important decreases in costs and emissions for the aerospace industry. Adaptation of successful space technology to produce novel fuselage architectures promises to make a significant contribution to the cause.
Spacecraft designs for aeroplanes
In order to improve the safety and efficiency of air transport, new composite materials such as carbon fibre reinforced polymer are being considered to replace traditional sheeting. Lattice structures used for spacefaring rockets preserve strength and safety, and are thus an attractive option for composite materials.

Several major aerospace companies worked together to develop such lattice frames for mass production. Their efforts were funded by the EU as part of the 'Advanced lattice structures for composite airframes' (ALASCA) project. The potential of the novel airframe architectures was demonstrated with two different pro-lattice fuselage barrel design concepts. One can be produced with automatic tape laying or winding, and one has a load-bearing skin and multifunctional covering of the primary structure.

Scientists have obtained three patents on configurations and materials developed within the scope of the project. A reduction in mass of the primary fuselage by 10 % as afforded by the new technology yields a 1 % reduction in overall fuel consumption. Given the high volume of air travel and long distances now routinely covered, this means a sizeable decrease in emissions for the aerospace industry.

ALASCA technology has the potential to significantly reduce the costs and weight of manufactured aeroplane parts, without compromising on safety or efficiency. A successfully funded follow-up project will address further investigations required to increase the technology-readiness level of these structures.

Related information

Keywords

Spacecraft designs, aeroplanes, aerospace, space technology, fuselage, air transport, composite materials, carbon fibre reinforced polymer, lattice structures, composite airframes
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