California Institute of Technology

United States Brand: SIMULIA, SIMULIA
Industry: Aerospace and Defense, Aerospace and Defense

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California. Caltech is home to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and whose faculty and alumni contain 31 Nobel Prize winners, 66 winners of the National Medal of Science or Technology, and 109 of its faculty have been elected to the National Academies.

The Challenge

Design lightweight self-deploying composite booms for satellites that achieve the fully expanded configuration that is required but does not overshoot at the end of deployment, damaging the boom and potentially the spacecraft carrying it.

Dassault Systèmes Response

By utilizing SIMULIA’s Abaqus Unified Finite Element Analysis (FEA), the Caltech team was able to accurately model and simulate the deployment of three different boom designs to decide on the optimal model. Once the chosen design was physically tested it coincided with the simulations.


SIMULIA’s Abaqus FEA allowed the Caltech team to accurately simulate boom deployment without costly physical experiments or the extremely difficult quantifications of the highly nonlinear geometric deformation, buckling, or dynamic snapping, which previously made boom behavior difficult to predict.