Ares Launch Vehicle Transonic Buffet Testing and Analysis Techniques


It is necessary to define the launch vehicle buffet loads to ensure that structural components and vehicle subsystems possess adequate strength, stress, and fatigue margins when the vehicle structural dynamic response to buffet forcing functions are considered. In order to obtain these forcing functions, the accepted method is to perform wind-tunnel testing of a rigid model instrumented with hundreds of unsteady pressure transducers designed to measure the buffet environment across the desired frequency range. The buffet wind-tunnel test program for the Ares Crew Launch Vehicle employed 3.5 percent scale rigid models of the Ares I and Ares I-X launch vehicles instrumented with 256 unsteady pressure transducers each. These models were tested at transonic conditions at the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center. The ultimate deliverable of the Ares buffet test program are buffet forcing functions (BFFs) derived from integrating the measured fluctuating pressures on the rigid wind-tunnel models. These BFFs are then used as input to a multi-mode structural analysis to determine the vehicle response to buffet and the resulting buffet loads and accelerations. This paper discusses the development of the Ares I and I-X rigid buffet model test programs from the standpoint of model design, instrumentation system design, test implementation, data analysis techniques to yield final products, and presents normalized sectional buffet forcing function root-mean-squared levels

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