The upper composite of ESA’s new small launcher has successfully passed its vibration tests at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC).
Vega’s components are built and tested at various locations across
Vega, which is being built by European industry under the leadership of
During the launch of a rocket, vibrations occur due to engine ignition, the thrust of the engines and the high-speed flow of air over the body of the vehicle as it accelerates through the Earth’s atmosphere.
The upper composite that has just been tested is the top part of the launcher, which houses the navigation, communications and control equipment. The payload is carried on top of the composite, protected by a streamlined fairing, or nosecone. During testing, a mechanically representative model of a real satellite was used.
In order to confirm that the upper composite will be able to withstand the vibrations that it will experience during launch, it was mounted on the ‘multi-shaker’ in the Test Centre at ESTEC. This electrodynamic vibration table applied accelerations to the base of the composite while around 400 accelerometers and 40 strain gauges measured the movements and forces within the structure, confirming that the design calculations are correct.
At the end of 2006, reports on all the tests will be presented at the “Critical Design Review”. If Vega passes this final examination, production of components for the qualification flight launcher will proceed.