CAE helping space agency account for the uncertain
Space exploration is an incredibly demanding field. The potential dangers are great: not only are space vehicles extremely costly to produce, but their failure can result in the death of the astronauts involved. Making matters more difficult, conditions in space are unlike anything found on Earth. This makes it difficult for space agencies to design and test their craft.
As Aerospace Manufacturing and Design recently highlighted, at least one agency is using advanced computer-aided engineering (CAE) to improve its performance in these areas.
According to the news source, Thales Alenia Space Italia (TAS-I), a European space system solution developer, relies heavily on Dassault Systemes' Isight in its design and testing processes.
Isight allows TAS-I engineers to create flexible simulation workflows and can automate design exploration. As a result, they are better able to test out various scenarios that the spacecraft may encounter.
As the news source noted, prototyping can offer only a limited array of potential trials for spacecraft. Vacuum chambers and wind tunnels, while useful, differ significantly from outer space's actual conditions. Isight and other CAE and computer-aided design (CAD) products are now sophisticated enough to recreate such scenarios in the virtual realm.
"Our analysis is more robust now because we can process huge amounts of data," said Cosimo Chiarelli, head of the aeromechanics and propulsion unit at TAS-I. "Using the Isight environment, we have been able to reduce the use of conservative assumptions for our designs."
CAD in space
While TAS-I and Isight are pushing the boundaries and capabilities of the technology, CAE and CAD have long been used by aeronautics firms to predict and account for conditions in space. NTE-SENER, for example, used SolidWorks CAD software to develop a system to help astronauts exercise while onboard the International Space Station. This process was only made possible with advanced 3D tools.