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Vibration Testing

Scope and Description

This topic covers sinusoidal and random vibration testing of spacecraft and component sub-assemblies or parts. This testing ensures that the spacecraft will survive the launch vibration environment and can provide vibration response data (e.g., accelerometry) for validation and refinement of structural analysis models. This testing is particularly important for smallsats, as smallsat teams often do not have access to the tools, expertise, or budget necessary to complete accurate, high-fidelity structural analyses for launch vibration.

Resources in this topic area are primarily standards which provide reference vibration environments and related requirements. In addition, articles describing smallsat vibration test procedures provide valuable examples to inform test planning and application of experimental data collected during testing.

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Last Updated:

Nov. 1, 2021

In-house vibration test equipment and processes, even for small spacecraft, are expensive and time consuming to set up and maintain. However, due to the general-purpose nature of these facilities, they are quite common within large engineering organizations and universities and are rarely booked-up. Reach out to colleagues, project stakeholders, and other individuals in your network to see if you can get free or low-cost access and avoid the cost of a traditional vibration test services provider.

Last Updated:

Nov. 1, 2021

Conduct comprehensive inspection and functional testing on the test article before and after vibration testing and compare results to detect damage. For electronics, functional testing at hot and cold temperatures following vibration testing is a good way to identify broken wires and solder joints which may not be detected with an ambient post-vibration functional test.

Last Updated:

Nov. 1, 2021

Carefully plan for vibration testing and document these plans in detail. Review your vibration test plan with key stakeholders on your team and, if applicable, with the test facility personnel. Facility specific equipment and processes can significantly impact these plans (e.g., accelerometry positioning, test fixture design, etc.) and should be carefully considered in advance.

Last Updated:

Nov. 1, 2021

Accelerometer data from vibration testing can be an powerful tool for validation and refinement of structural analysis models. Carefully plan out vibration test accelerometer positioning to validate both (1) the excitation close to structural interfaces and (2) at locations where your modeling predicts relatively high response in various vibrational modes.

Resources

Last Updated: Oct. 7, 2021

A resource on the guidance and recommendations for vibration testing of smallsats. This document provides ... test procedures, expected results, and objectives for testing the forces imposed on smallsats during launch. Additionally, it discusses the limitations of testing on a shaker and ensuring that the test procedure leads to verification of a mission requirement.

VibrationData

Website
Tom Irvine

Last Updated: Oct. 14, 2021

This website provides in-depth tutorials and software tools for structural analysis. This includes sections ... on vibration response spectrum, damping, shock and shock response spectrum, random vibration, and many other topics relevant to the structural analysis of space hardware. This is a good place to go to improve your understanding of the fundamental principles and assumptions behind structural analysis methods. Some content can be accessed without a subscription, but a subscription is required for full access.

Last Updated: Oct. 19, 2021

This conference paper documents environmental testing performed on a 120kg university smallsat. It covers ... EMC testing, vibration testing, and thermal/vacuum testing. This resource provides valuable information to inform environmental testing of other smallsats, including theoretical background, test conditions, photos, diagrams, and experimental data.

Last Updated: Nov. 11, 2021

This thesis discusses the development of a vibration model used for CubeSats deployer systems, and a ... proposed solution for mitigating the vibration effects. The paper provides detailed information on the development of the vibration model and discusses how and why vibration loads affect CubeSats in the deployer system.

Last Updated: Oct. 14, 2021

This standard provides environmental and structural ground testing requirements for space hardware. This ... is a very comprehensive and traditional requirements document not appropriate for determining requirements for most smallsat projects; however, it provides definitions, baseline requirements, and specific methodologies for each type of test and can serve as a valuable reference to inform smallsat testing. This section titled "Unit Vibration Test" provides vibration test requirements and related information.

Last Updated: Oct. 18, 2021

This handbook provides in-depth guidance on testing of space vehicles. This is a dated but comprehensive ... source of space hardware test environments and processes that could be used to inform test planning and execution for smallsat projects. This section covers vibration testing of space vehicles.