Aerostats are lighter-than-air vehicles tethered to the ground by a cable and used for broadcasting, communications, surveillance, and drug interdiction. The dynamic response of tethered aerostats subject to extreme atmospheric turbulence often dictates survivability. This paper develops a theoretical model that predicts the planar response of a tethered aerostat subject to atmospheric turbulence and simulates the response to 1000 simulated hurricane scale turbulent time histories. The aerostat dynamic model assumes the aerostat hull to be a rigid body with nonlinear fluid loading, instantaneous weathervaning for planar response, and a continuous tether. Galerkin’s method discretizes the coupled aerostat and tether partial differential equations to produce a nonlinear initial value problem that is integrated numerically given initial conditions and wind inputs. The proper orthogonal decomposition theorem generates, based on Hurricane Georges wind data, turbulent time histories that possess the sequential behavior of actual turbulence, are spectrally accurate, and have non-Gaussian density functions. The generated turbulent time histories are simulated to predict the aerostat response to severe turbulence. The resulting probability distributions for the aerostat position, pitch angle, and confluence point tension predict the aerostat behavior in high gust environments. The results uncover a worst case wind input consisting of a two-pulse vertical gust.

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