Skip to main content

Mechanical fatigue and spectrum analysis of small-satellite structure


Mechanical fatigue due to environmental loads and spectrum analysis due to launch loads of the primary structure of a low cost, low-earth orbit small satellite intended for earth observation missions are presented. The payload of the satellite under consideration is a precise optical unit to image the earth’s surface having a mass of 45 kg. 3-D Finite Element Model for the satellite structure is generated by applying substructure method. Modal analysis is required to determine natural frequencies of the satellite and define its mode shape. Then, ranking of mode shapes according to specific constraint is performed. Harmonic analysis at resonance frequencies with the highest ranking is done and cumulative fatigue damage analysis is performed. Spectrum analysis is performed for Small Sat structure to verify the satellite structure reliability under all dynamic random vibration loads applied during transportation and launch cases.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8


  • ANSYS Professional, Software Package, Ver. 10, ANSYS, Inc., Southpointe, 275 Technology Drive. Canonsburg, PA 15317

  • Bruhn, E.F.: Analysis and Design of Flight Vehicle Structures. Tri-State Offset Company, USA (1973)

    Google Scholar 

  • Crandall, S.F.: Random Vibration. Technology Press, Wiley, NY (1958)

    Google Scholar 

  • Dnepr SLS User’s Guide, Issue 2, Nov. 2001. (2001)

  • Grooms, H.R., DeBarro, C.F., Paydarfar, S.: What is an optimal spacecraft structure? J. Spacecr. Rockets 29, 480–483 (1992)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hatch, M.: Vibration Simulation Using MATLAB and ANSYS. Chapman & Hall/CRC, Florida (2001)

    Google Scholar 

  • Hibbeler Russell, C.: Structural Analysis, 3rd edn. Prentice Hall, Inc (1995)

  • Sarafin, T.P., Larson, W.J. (eds.): Spacecraft Structures and Mechanisms—From Concept to Launch. Microcosm Press and Kluwer Academic Publishers, Torrance, CA (1995)

    Google Scholar 

  • Schiff, D.: Dynamic Analysis and Failure Modes of Simple Structures. Wiley, NY (1990)

    Google Scholar 

  • Shegly, J.: Mechanical Engineering Design, 6th edn. McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA (2004)

    Google Scholar 

  • Tedesco, J., McDougal, G., Ross, C.: Structural Dynamics—Theory and Applications. Addison Wesley Longmann, CA (1999)

    Google Scholar 

  • Wertz, J.R., Larson, W.J.: Space Mission Analysis and Design. Space Microcosm Press and Kluwer Academic Publishers, Torrance, CA (1992)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gasser Farouk Abdelal.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Abdelal, G.F., Abuelfoutouh, N. & Hamdy, A. Mechanical fatigue and spectrum analysis of small-satellite structure. Int J Mech Mater Des 4, 265–278 (2008).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Aerospace
  • Satellite
  • Structure
  • Finite element
  • Modal analysis
  • Harmonic analysis
  • Spectrum analysis