Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
An Overview of Part I
Vehicular weight, particularly that of aircraft and spacecraft, has a strong effect on the performance or economics of all such vehicles. Thus it is well worth spending many engineering man-hours on their design and analysis so as to make those vehicles as light-weight as possible. To make those many engineering hours of analysis as effective as possible, it is important that all the different types of loads that the vehicle will bear be well estimated, and then the structural response to those loads be carefully calculated. To carefully calculate the response of structures to estimated or measured loadings, it is important to use structural analysis techniques to which considerable confidence can be assigned. High degrees of confidence are achieved through experience and through thorough understanding of any approximations that are incorporated within the derivations of the selected structural analysis techniques. Thus it would seem that, in general, the fewer and the smaller the approximations, the more useful the structural analysis technique. This surmise is only partially true. As will be seen as the material of this textbook unfolds, the use of structural analysis techniques that contain essentially no approximations for many circumstances can be much too expensive and time consuming. Hence a compromise between cost and accuracy is necessary for good engineering practice. To understand how that compromise is found, this introduction to aerospace structures begins with the fundamentals of structural mechanics where the approximations are few in number and small in impact.