Date of Award

Spring 1983

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Engineering Mechanics

Committee Director

Earl A. Thornton

Committee Member

Surendra N. Tiwari

Committee Member

Stephen G. Cupschalk

Committee Member

John H. Heinbockel

Committee Member

Ram Prabhakaren


A finite element approach for efficient thermal-structural analysis of structures with thermal protection systems (TPS) is described. The approach is applied to Space Shuttle wing structure configurations subjected to reentry heating. New two and three-dimensional finite elements are developed to model heat transfer in the TPS and supporting structure. A typical TPS/Structural element predicts transient nonlinear temperature variations through the TPS thickness and detailed structural temperatures at the TPS/Structure interface. The accuracy of the TPS/Structure approach in two and three-dimensions is evaluated by comparisons with the conventional approach for various configurations of the wing structure. The results indicate that the approach predicts detailed structural temperature distributions with significant reduction in model size and computer time. The approach offers potential for extension to more complex two and three-dimensional structures.