Composite Rocket Body


Space explorations and researches are increasing rapidly. Efficient and cost-effective manufacturing of rocket bodies become competitive in the space industry. Aerospace companies are looking for a way to reduce cost and maximize thrust in order to get high thrust for their rockets. Composite materials pave the way for this problem.

Composite Body

The primary requirements of the rocket bodies are weight and mechanical stiffness. These can be provided with different composite materials but carbon fiber of course comes to mind first. Carbon fiber is an important advantage for this industry because it offers high stiffness and low weight at the same time. However, it is, therefore, more expensive than other common composite materials.

As rockets have limited fuel and oxidizer to provide enough thrust, the weight of the overall rocket becomes a crucial point for the propulsion. The lighter the rocket body, the higher thrust as far as mechanical strength requirements are met. Mechanical strength plays an important role while the rocket accelerated to higher speeds. Rocket body must show a good and stable performance against strong aerodynamic forces in the high Mach speeds. Therefore, carbon fiber must also be well manufactured and used.

Filament Winding

One of the best advantages of filament winding is that fibers can be placed in the desired orientations to meet the required properties. Depending on the diameter of the rocket body and after the FEA analysis results, rocket bodies can be manufactured in different orientations automatically. Mechanical strength of the body relies on aligned fibers and used resin of course. Most commonly special aerospace-grade epoxies are used to prevent safety risks.

Mandrels are used as the inner diameter of the rocket body and fibers are aligned on it. When considered other manufacturing methods, common low-altitude rocket bodies can be manufactured with the filament winding method cost-effectively.

Overall, main advantages of the composite materials and filament winding for the rocket bodies;

· Carbon fiber provides high mechanical properties and stability

· Cost-effective and fast manufacturing with filament winding

· Desired orientations of the fibers with filament winding technology

· Lightweight rocket bodies — higher thrust capability