Overview of the Space Launch System Transonic Buffet Environment Test Program


Fluctuating aerodynamic loads are a significant concern for the structural design of a launch vehicle, particularly while traversing the transonic flight environment. At these trajectory conditions, unsteady aerodynamic pressures can excite the vehicle dynamic modes of vibration and result in high structural bending moments and vibratory environments. To ensure that vehicle structural components and subsystems possess adequate strength, stress, and fatigue margins in the presence of buffet and other environments, buffet forcing functions are required to conduct the coupled load analysis of the launch vehicle. The accepted method to obtain these buffet forcing functions is to perform wind-tunnel testing of a rigid model that is heavily instrumented with unsteady pressure transducers designed to measure the buffet environment within the desired frequency range. Two wind-tunnel tests of a 3 percent scale rigid buffet model have been conducted at the Langley Research Center Transonic Dynamics Tunnel (TDT) as part of the Space Launch System (SLS) buffet test program. The SLS buffet models have been instrumented with as many as 472 unsteady pressure transducers to resolve the buffet forcing functions of this multi-body configuration through integration of the individual pressure time histories. This paper will discuss test program development, instrumentation, data acquisition, test implementation, data analysis techniques, and several methods explored to mitigate high buffet environment encountered during the test program. Preliminary buffet environments will be presented and compared using normalized sectional buffet forcing function root-meansquared levels along the vehicle centerline

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