The Design of Carbon Fibre Composite Origami Airbrakes for Endeavour’s Darwin I Rocket

Hyeon (Ann) Lee, Parvez Alam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper concerns the conceptual design of a carbon fibre composite airbrake intended for use on the Endeavour Darwin I rocket. The airbrake design is based on a Flasher origami model and we research its actuation mechanism, its ability to increase drag, and its mechanical behaviour when actuated. The aim of this work was to improve upon the current ‘Pancake’ airbrake model and we find that the origami Flasher generates six times more drag at a given torque. The Flasher is designed to be built of quasi-isotropic CFRP resting on a carbon fibre woven membrane. When subjected to distributed loads from drag, the Flasher presses into the membrane material causing it to stress at levels of 1.4 GPa. Taking into account a safety factor of 1.2 for the rocket airbrake, this stress lies far below the failure stress of the carbon fibre woven membrane. In this work, the composite Flasher origami airbrake design offers improvements in drag and weight reduction, and will withstand drag forces when actuated.
Original languageEnglish
Article number147
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Composites Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • carbon fibre composite
  • carbon fibre woven
  • quasi-isotropic CFRP
  • rocket airbrake
  • origami engineering
  • mechanical metamaterial design

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