An innovative solution for a rapidly deployable shelter for use in austere environments is presented in this paper. The design incorporates a self-erecting dome structure and a compressible, high R-value thermal barrier to enable rapid in-theatre deployment of personnel in harsh environmental conditions.

The design concept presented in the paper was originally developed in response to the Army branch of the small business innovative research (SBIR) solicitation topic A11-099. The proposed 400 ft2 shelter meets the design goals of deployment by two people in 20 minutes, capability of withstanding 100 mph winds, and an R value of at least 15. These objectives have been proven via test, analysis, and mechanical demonstration of the key design components and systems.

The primary structure consists of eight composite tubes. The tubes are slip-fit into a central hub; each member is similar to a spoke extending outward radially from the hub. A tension cable is run around the outer perimeter of the radial spokes, passing through a fitting at the tip of each spoke, and a protective skin is draped over the structural members. The structure is then elastically deformed via buckling into a dome-shaped structure by tensioning the cable. This allows quick, easy shelter erection from a single location by one person using a winch. The protective skin is then tensioned to the shelter base with adjustable straps. Stakes are not required to support the structure. A scale model of the primary structure was built to demonstrate the controlled buckling of the members to form the main structural components, and the scale model successfully demonstrated deployment in minimal time.

A cellular fabric blanket, which uses entrapped air to provide a thermal barrier, is hung from the inside of the structure and is mechanically expanded to maintain the desired cell size. It can then be packed to 1/20th of its deployed volume for transportation. Simulations and tests were used to optimize the cell size and aspect ratio for weight, manufacturability, and R value. Analytical predictions and component-level testing have demonstrated that a system-level R value of 15 is achievable.

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