Launch Vehicle and Spacecraft Acoustic Testing and Analysis

COURSE NO.: 1050


One of the major design challenges on many spacecraft is addressing the structural response to acoustic loads coming
from launch vehicle rocket motors. Spacecraft and payloads of the launch vehicles can be damaged or suffer performance
degradation due to these acoustic loads.  The emphasis of the course is on the logical flow from the measurement or
estimation of the launch vehicle acoustic environment through having a spacecraft that is fully qualified and acceptance
tested for flight.


Each attendee will receive a CD copy of the PowerPoint presentation and a printed set of course materials.  Included in
the PowerPoint presentation are hyperlinks to reference material which the student can use to research specialized areas of
interest, if desired.


This course is designed for engineers, test personnel and managers who want to improve their understanding of
state-of-the-art vibroacoustic phenomena, testing techniques, acoustic test facility design and prediction methods.


How to plan a test program to fully qualify a flight spacecraft for acoustic loads.  Key spacecraft acoustic testing
rules-of-thumb and sanity checks.  Acoustic sound pressure theory for reverberant and non-reverberant (direct) acoustic
testing.  Differences between launch and ground test acoustics.  Acoustic test facility design considerations.  The use of
acoustic test data to support analytical model validation and spacecraft component random vibration test spectra.


    1. Introduction to Launch Vehicle and Spacecraft Acoustic Testing and Analysis

    Outline.  Overall flow of processes and activities.  Launch and flight acoustics considerations. 

    2.  Acoustic Sound Pressure Theory and Terminology

    Sound pressure measurement, propagation, reflection and absorbsion.  Properties of sound waves. 

    3.   Launch and Flight Acoustics

    Sources of sound pressure.  Acoustic events during launch and ascent. Measurement of basic lift-off and ascent
    acoustic environments.  Estimation of acoustic test spectra based on measured launch data.  Estimation of acoustic
    test spectra based on ground testing.  

    4.   Types of Spacecraft Acoustic Testing

    Technical, schedule and cost aspects of non-reverberant (direct) and reverberant acoustic testing. 

    5.  Acoustic Test Technical Parameters

    Sound pressure level, frequency bandwidth, damping, coupling loss factors and reverberation time.

    6.   Acoustic Test Facility Design, Capabilities and Challenges

    Acoustic test facility schematics.  Acoustic chamber design considerations.  Sound pressure generation including
    vaporizers, transducers, horns and loud speakers.  Modal density. Instrumentation for acoustic testing.  Safety
    considerations.  Communications.

    7.   System Level Spacecraft Acoustic Test       

    Acoustic testing philosophies, methods and requirements.  Acoustic test control. Data processing during acoustic
    testing.  Acoustic test management, personnel and requirements.  Sources of errors in spacecraft acoustic testing and
    error Mitigation.  Acoustic test plans, specifications, procedures and reports. 

    8.   Avoiding Acoustics-Caused Problems

    How spacecraft modes respond to acoustic environments. Avoiding problems caused by vibro-acoustic responses
    during ground testing.  Payload fill effects. Differences between launch/flight and test acoustics.  Acoustic problems
    generated during spacecraft launch and ascent. 

    9.  Analytical Prediction of Acoustics and Vibro-Acoustic Response

    General overview of statistical energy analysis and finite element and boundary element methods.  Estimation of
    spacecraft component random vibration using empirical methods.  Use of test data to support analytical modeling.

Instructor: James M. Haughton, BSME, PE

Jim Haughton is a structural test engineer with over 30 years experience in structural testing of aerospace hardware. He
specializes in mechanical launch environment analysis, acoustic, vibration and modal survey testing on spacecraft.   His
aerospace work has been primarily through the Naval Research Laboratory’s Naval Center for Space Technology and
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  He is also currently supporting the design review effort for the NASA Plumbrook
VTC. He has a BSME degree from Manhattan College, Bronx, N.Y. and he has been the President of, and Structural Test
Engineer for, Kinetic Research Corp since 1985.


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