Acoustic Analysis of Spacecraft Cavities using the Boundary Element Method

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Spacecraft structures are subject to a series of load environments during their service life, with the most severe of these occurring during the spacecraft's launch and ascension through the atmosphere. In particular, acoustic loads imposed on stowed satellites within the launch vehicle fairing can result in high mechanical loads on sensitive spacecraft hardware. These acoustic loads have the potential to damage important components and as such it is necessary to accurately characterize and predict the acoustic launch environment for a given mission. This research investigates the Sound Pressure Level (SPL) that can be measured in and around spacecraft cavities resulting from a known excitation and the resultant structural responses. Linear finite element analysis (FEA) is coupled with the Boundary Element method (BEM) to analyze spacecraft acoustic environments and corresponding structural responses at low frequencies on the order of the structural modes.

Analytical capability for predicting acoustic environments inside the launch vehicle has improved significantly in recent years; however, while it is easy to perform an analysis and obtain results, the modeling effort can become unnecessarily complicated and analytical data can be hard to interpret. This work seeks to alleviate unnecessary complexity in the low-frequency regime of acoustic modeling by examining the fundamentals of coupled BEM-FEM analysis and applying simplification to a spacecraft model where possible to achieve results verified against direct field acoustic testing (DFAT) methods.



Acoustics, Spacecraft Structures, Boundary Element Method