Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tensegrity in rocketry = the ultimate odd-roc?

'Tensegrity', a mash-up of words tensional and integrity, is a term referring to the integrity of structures based on a balance between tension and compression forces. This term is attributed to artist Kenneth Snelson who built amazing sculptures using rigid components (struts) interconnected with a network of tension components (cables). Most unique is that none of the rigid members touch one another:

Several years ago, Robert Galejs entered his Three Fin Snelson in r.m.r. Descon 13. True to the Snelson name, the fins on Robert's rocket were suspended in mid air by a network of strings:

The rocket flew well, but the tension and compression had gone from the structure. The design concept was proven but the building technique needed refinement. Not surprising considering this is likely the only rocket ever built using this technique.