Low Risk Parts for Spaceflight

NASA-STD-5019, Fracture Control Requirement for Spaceflight Hardware (excerpt) Low-Risk Part

This section addresses parts that can be classified non-fracture critical because of large structural margins and other considerations that make failure from a pre-existing flaw extremely unlikely.

a. For a part to be classified low risk, it shall be constructed from a commercially available material procured to an aerospace standard or equivalent.

b. Aluminum parts shall not be loaded in the short transverse direction if this dimension is greater than 7.62 cm (3 in).

c. A part whose failure directly results in a catastrophic hazard shall be excluded from being classified low risk, except when the total (unconcentrated) stresses in the part at limit load are less than 30 percent of the ultimate strength for the material used and requirements (1) through (3) and either (4) or (5) are met.

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Thus fatigue and fracture analyses are not required for parts with peak stress less than 0.3*ultimate.

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The peak stress can also be compared to the endurance limit, but some materials do not have identified endurance limits.  Here is a rule-of-thumb for these cases from NASA-HDBK-5010.

Perform endurance limit analysis to show the maximum stress does not exceed the endurance limit or

Smax < Ftu/( 4{1-0.5 R} )


Smax is the local concentrated stress
Ftu is the tensile ultimate stress
R is the ratio of minimum stress to maximum stress in a fatigue cycle

Note that R=-1 for fully reversed stress with zero mean stress.  For this case:  Smax < Ftu/6

This formula has some limitations and needs further research.

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– Tom Irvine

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