The lobes of the NASA ULDB pumpkin-shaped super-pressure balloons are made of a thin polymeric film that shows considerable time-dependent behaviour. A nonlinear viscoelastic model based on experimental measurements has been recently established for this film. This paper presents a simulation of the viscoelastic behaviour of ULDB balloons with the finite element software ABAQUS. First, the standard viscoelastic modelling capabilities available in ABAQUS are examined, but are found of limited accuracy even for the case of simple uniaxial creep tests on ULDB films. Then, a nonlinear viscoelastic constitutive model is implemented by means of a userdefined subroutine. This approach is verified by means of biaxial creep experiments on pressurized cylinders and is found to be accurate provided that the film anisotropy is also included in the model. A preliminary set of predictions for a single lobe of a ULDB is presented at the end of the paper. It indicates that time-dependent effects in a balloon structure can lead to significant stress redistribution and large increases in the transverse strains in the lobes.
- atmospheric balloons
- polyethylene film