A containment of a nuclear power plant is a final barrier against the release of radioactive materials and withstands internal pressure due to an accident. Buckling is a critical failure mode of an ellipsoidal head of steel containment vessel under internal pressure. First, a vessel was designed to measure buckling pressure and shape of the ellipsoidal head. Second, an experiment was successfully performed on an ellipsoidal head which has a diameter of 4797 mm, a radius-to-height ratio of 1.728, and a thickness of 5.5 mm. The initial shape and deformations of the ellipsoidal head were measured by using three-dimensional (3D) laser scanners. The detailed buckling characteristics including shapes, deformations, strains of buckles, and buckling pressures were obtained. Finally, initial buckling pressures were predicted by nonlinear finite element analysis considering the initial measured and the initial perfect shapes of the ellipsoidal head, respectively. The agreement between the initial experimental buckling pressure and that predicted by the analysis considering the initial measured shape is good.

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