Lightweight Composite Launch Vehicle Fairings with Integrated Damping

Period of Performance: 04/14/1998 - 04/04/1999


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

CSA Engineering, Inc.
2565 Leghorn Street
Mountain View, CA 94043
Principal Investigator

Research Topics


Payloads are subjected to an extreme acoustic environment during launch. Much of this environment is due to sound radiated from the fairing structure, which encloses and protects the payload while providing a smooth aerodynamic surface for interaction with the atmosphere during launch. The severe acoustics cause structural vibrations of the payload that can damage components and threaten mission success. The proposed program will demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating passive, viscoelastic material damping into composite payload-fairing structures while maintaining their strength and stiffness. The work will focus on design and manufacturing methods, including co-curing of viscoelastic with composite material, to greatly reduce costs and improve performance compared to existing fairings. Finite elmeent analysis will be used to determine candidate configurations. Proof of concept panels will be fabricated and tested. Measurement will be used with a combined finite-element/boundary-element acoustic analysis to predict performance of a fairing built with this technology. The long-term objective is a manufacturing capability for a highly damped payload fairing.