Improving Bending Stiffness of Tensegrity Booms

Authors: Dalil Safaei, S.D., Eriksson,  , Tibert, G.
Document Type: Article
Pubstate: Accepted
Journal: International Journal of Space Structures
Year: 2012


There is a high interest in employing lightweight, low-cost, deployable structures for space missions. Utilizing tensegrity structures in space application is limited, due to their low stiffness, while a number of high stiffness-to-mass truss booms have been launched. This paper aims to describe and improve the bending stiffness of tensegrity booms. Tensegrity booms of Snelson and triangular prism type are selected for the study. These structures are excellent samples of class 1 tensegrities, with a single state of self-stress and one mechanism, and class 2 tensegrities, with multiple states of self-stress and mechanisms. The stiffness modification procedure includes three steps: (Step 1) developing a strategy for a fair comparison of tensegrity booms with a high performance truss boom. A genetic algorithm is employed to find the optimum cross-section areas of the boom elements. Sources of low stiffness of tensegrities are discussed. (Step 2) an effort is made to find the optimum placement of actuators for improving the stiffness of the tensegrity booms. (Step 3) a genetic algorithm is utilized to calculate their optimum actuation. All three stages have been performed based on a link between non-linear finite element analysis and a genetic algorithm. The genetic algorithm shows high accuracy of searching non-structural space, and also dealing with above steps. Results indicate that the stiffness of tensegrity booms is highly improved by activating the structures.