Space Launch System
August 29, 2014

Quiet, Please: NASA Engineers Wrapping Up Acoustic Testing For Space Launch System

Megan Davidson, Marshall Space Flight Center

Engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, are wrapping up acoustic testing on a 5-percent scale model of NASA's Space Launch System. The Aug.28 test, the 34th in the series, will help NASA engineers understand how loud the SLS vehicle will be during liftoff. Data from the test series will be used to design the water sound suppression system that reduces liftoff vibrations on the vehicle.  SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimately to Mars.

[ Watch the Video: NASA Tests Model of Powerful New Rocket ]

The Scale Model Acoustic test article has four operational liquid engines and two solid rocket motors to represent the propulsion system for SLS. The launch structure also has working water delivery systems to represent its sound suppression system. The test article can be elevated to capture how the liftoff noise changes as the vehicle launches to space. Hot-fire testing began in January and will end this fall.

"We have almost completed testing to encompass all of the liftoff noise levels SLS could experience during launch," said Jeremy Kenny, SLS acoustics engineer at the Marshall Center. "The latest test will inform us of the liftoff noise levels as the vehicle is positioned approximately 150 feet above the deck that the model is positioned on."

"This has been a very successful test program," Kenny added. "Not only has our team gotten a better understanding of the noise levels expected at launch, but we've also proven out the effectiveness of the water suppression systems currently being installed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center."

The test program is led by Marshall's Propulsion Department in the Engineering Directorate, with additional engineering support across several NASA centers. The Marshall Center manages the SLS Program for the agency.