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Spacecraft launch environment and vibration testing

Faculty of Engineering

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Prof G Aglietti Applications accepted all year round

About the Project

The main aim of this project is to investigate and improve some aspects of the environmental vibration testing that is carried out during the development and qualification of spacecraft.

Vibration testing is performed to validate a satellite or equipment’s mathematical model (Finite Element Model) and to prove experimentally that the hardware can withstand without damage the very harsh vibration environment produced during the spacecraft launch.

In reality, during launch the items are shaken in all directions simultaneously and they are mounted on a relatively flexible structure, whereas during the test the vibrations are typically applied one axis at a time, with the items mounted on a rigid interface. Due to the physical mismatch between launch situation and tests, the desire to ensure a conservative test which envelopes the worst case responses produced during launch, produces test conditions which are far more severe than the real launch. The result is that test survival can become a significant load case driving an over-design and therefore preventing an effective optimization of the item with respect to the real operating conditions.

The aim of the research is to investigate these issues and propose methodologies to improve the representativeness of the tests.

For more information, contact Prof. G Aglietti: (, Director - Space Institute -Te Pūnaha Ātea (

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