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Acoustic Testing

Scope and Description

This topic page covers acoustic testing of spacecraft. The acoustic (i.e., noise) environment during launch extends into a higher frequency range than the vibration simultaneously imparted by mechanical interfaces. Acoustic testing involves placing the system under test in a reverberant chamber or surrounding it with a powerful array of speakers to replicate the launch environment. This testing ensures that the spacecraft will survive the acoustic environment of launch and can provide response accelerometry for validation and refinement of structural analysis models.

Resources in this topic area are primarily standards which provide requirements and methods for acoustic testing and case studies documenting shock testing of spacecraft hardware.

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Last Updated:

Nov. 1, 2021

Acoustic testing requires specialized facilities. If your spacecraft or one of its constituent subsystems (e.g., a high area-to-mass ratio reflector) is considered vulnerable to acoustic loading during launch, determine whether the acoustic environment can be adequately represented by random vibration to enable lower-cost verification of structural performance and workmanship.



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 NASA technical handbook provides background and guidance on the DFAT method for exposing space hardware ... to high-intensity acoustic levels using an array of loudspeakers. This testing method is typically more convenient and lower-cost than traditional acoustic testing in a reverberant chamber.

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 acoustic testing of space vehicles.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2021

This NASA standard details the test criteria for payload vibroacoustic testing. It "establishes the uniform ... use of test factors in the vibroacoustic verification process for spaceflight payload hardware." Also included, are minimum workmanship test levels in relation to maximum expected flight level (MEFL).

Last Updated: Oct. 18, 2021

This document highlights the CASSIOPE Canadian smallsat mission and the acoustic testing performed prior ... to launch. The 490-kg spacecraft was subjected to 142.1 dB in a reverberant chamber and the test results were compared to a predictive model developed using the RAYON vibro-acoustic simulation software.

Last Updated: Oct. 19, 2021

This NASA lessons learned database entry argues for acoustic testing of critical spacecraft hardware, ... particularly in high area-to-mass-ratio structures that can be rapidly fatigued by high-frequency acoustic resonances. The web page outlines the benefits of this testing and provides typical requirements, technical rationale, and references.

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 Acoustic Test" provides acoustic test requirements and related information.