Analyzing a Spaceplane with HyperSizer
Michael Alba posted on May 17, 2018 | | 1040 views
Artistic rendering of the Dream Chaser spacecraft. (Image courtesy of Sierra Nevada Corporation.)
Artistic rendering of the Dream Chaser spacecraft. (Image courtesy of Sierra Nevada Corporation.)
Meet the Dream Chaser Cargo System, an autonomous, reusable spaceplane under development by the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). The unmanned craft will serve NASA in several Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-2) missions to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS)starting in late 2020. 

To design the Dream Chaser, SNC made extensive use of HyperSizer, an advanced stress analysis and structural sizing optimization tool from Collier Research Corporation. HyperSizer was borne of research conducted at NASA’s Langley Research Center, and today is an invaluable tool for some in the aerospace industry, SNC included. 

“HyperSizer’s suite of industry-standard failure criteria was extremely valuable for our team, enabling us to quickly size the Dream Chaser structure and perform architectural trade studies,” said Andy Kim, senior structural engineer for SNC. “The software’s rapid analysis capability gave us more time to interrogate our results and gain insights into the sensitivity of the structural weight to various design features and stiffener cross sections.” 

Screenshot of HyperSizer Pro. (Image courtesy of Collier Research Corporation.)
Screenshot of HyperSizer Pro. (Image courtesy of Collier Research Corporation.)
The Dream Chaser presented an exceptional design challenge, as it must accommodate both pressurized and non-pressurized cargo of differing weights. The system must also handle different re-entry trajectories and withstand high deflection forces. For SNC, HyperSizer was critical to understanding the strength, weight and manufacturability of its designs, and the company used the software on almost all of its primary composite structures for the Dream Chaser CRS-2. 

“HyperSizer helped us improve and automate the design-analysis process for the CRS-2,” said Eric Schleicher, SNC principal structural engineer. “We found some of the most useful aspects of the software to be load processing, sizing, margin reporting and the finite element model [FEM] update feature.” 

Depiction of the Dream Chaser docked to the ISS. (Image courtesy of Sierra Nevada Corporation.)
Depiction of the Dream Chaser docked to the ISS. (Image courtesy of Sierra Nevada Corporation.)
To learn more about HyperSizer, read NASA-Born Software Improves Composite Design.

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