Thermal-Shock Effects on a Space Vehicle

by Lewis Li-Tang Au,
Donald J. Trent,

Serial Information: Journal of the Engineering Mechanics Division, 1965, Vol. 91, Issue 4, Pg. 1-26

Document Type: Journal Paper


The problem of thermal shock has implications in the microscopic scale, the macroscopic range, and in terms of the total structure. This paper studies these three areas of thermal-shock response of spacecraft structures. When encountering thermal-shock conditions, the spacecraft structure, comprising panels and shells, will react instantaneously. The response may involve vibration and melting of the structure in general, and drastic changes in material functions locally. The basic microscopic material characteristics that are involved in these processes are identified. Correlations between these characteristics and the more familiar macroscopic aspects of material behavior are included. Two significant phenomena of thermal shocks are investigated analytically: (1) The vaporization and blowing off of surface material that can result from sudden application of thermal energy to the surface of a vehicle; and (2) the vibration and response of vehicle panels and shells to such sudden application of thermal energy.

Subject Headings: Thermal analysis | Thermal power | Thermal properties | Thermal effects | Aircraft and spacecraft | Vehicles | Panels (structural) | Vibration

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