SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1992

A Probabilistic Fracture Mechanics Approach for Structural Reliability Assessment of Space Flight Systems


A probabilistic fracture mechanics approach for predicting the failure life distribution due to subcritical crack growth is presented. A state-of-the-art crack propagation method is used in a Monte Carlo simulation to generate a distribution of failure lives. The crack growth failure model expresses failure life as a function of stochastic parameters including environment, loads, material properties, geometry, and model specification errors. A stochastic crack growth rate model that considers the uncertainties due to scatter in the data and model misspecification is proposed. The rationale for choosing a particular type of probability distribution for each stochastic input parameter and for specifying the distribution parameters is presented. The approach is demonstrated through a probabilistic crack growth failure analysis of a welded tube in the Space Shuttle Main Engine. A discussion of the results from this application of the methodology is given.

Author Information

Sutharshana, S
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
Creager, M
Structural Integrity Engineering, Chatsworth, CA
Ebbeler, D
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
Moore, N
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
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Developed by Committee: E08
Pages: 234–246
DOI: 10.1520/STP24162S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5185-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1423-4