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Structural Qualification Facilities

The Structural Qualification Facilities (SQF) comprises the following:

Vibration and shock test facility

This facility employs SIEMENS/LMS vibration control systems running SIEMENS/LMS Test.Lab software for vibration and shock testing. Their total real time channel capability is 240 accelerometers including 28 strain gauge channels and the system can control/notch/limit up to 64 channels in realtime. Backup DSPCon Dataflex disk recorders include signal conditioning that can backup or add an additional 256 accelerometer or strain gauge channels.

Test capabilities include: sine control, random control, shock control, sine dwell, sine on random control, random on random control, sine and random on random control, force limited vibration testing, shock response synthesis, shock response analysis, transient capture, sine data reduction, random data reduction, and shock data reduction.

Unholtz-Dickie UD4000 shaker

Note: Additional free-standing linear hydraulic bearings may supplement the existing large slip table on the UD 4000 Shaker.

LDS V-9 shaker

LING A395 shaker

MTS shock machine

Pyroshock simulation shock bench

Instrumentation and monitoring

Modal test facility

This facility uses a SIEMENS/LMS frontend running SIEMENS/LMS Test.Lab software to acquire and analyze modal test data. A variety of excitation hardware exists to excite the test item.

The LMS frontend is capable of six MIMO excitation signals. This facility provides the following capabilities:

Static load test facility

This facility allows for cyclical and static load testing. It consists of a six-channel MTS Aero ST controller running Aeropro Control and Data Acquisition Software employing HBM MCGplus and VXI EX 1629B data acquisition systems.



Seismic mass – High bay 3

Mass properties measurement facility



Metrology facility

Autocollimation measurements and Cartesian coordinate measurement metrology are two important methods used during the integration and alignment of spacecraft components. Various spacecraft components such as propulsion thrusters, star trackers, reaction wheels, sun sensors. magnetometers, internal guidance system components, and scientific instruments are required to satisfy a specific orientation and location in six degrees of freedom in a local spacecraft coordinate system. The pointing directions are needed for the attitude control system to position the spacecraft and to know the pointing direction for the scientific instruments in the same spacecraft coordinate system. In addition, the orientations and positions of the spacecraft and integrated components are calibrated before and after thermal vacuum testing, vibration, acoustic, and shock loading to ensure that the components can survive launch conditions and the environment of space.

Photogrammetric measurements allow the coordinate based measurement of shape and distortion under mechanical or thermal loading. Photogrammetry is particularly useful in evaluating the shape distortion of large antenna reflectors under thermal vacuum conditions.

All of DFL's metrology instruments are driven from a common New River Kinematics Spatial Analyzer computer. This system provides an integrated platform for the metrology instruments as well as an analysis tool for assembly, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, as well as CAD model to as built comparisons.

Leica LTD500 laser tracker with ADM and nivel level

Leica's LTD500 Laser Tracker has both laser interferometer (IFM) and the absolute distance measuring (ADM) capabilities. The equipment is available with an external mounting Nivel level to orient with respect to gravity. The Leica tracker has a full 360-degree range in the horizontal, and a 90-degree range in the vertical. The ADM operating range is greater than 2.0 to 35 m and the overall coordinate accuracy is 10ppm (10 µm/m).

Leica absolute tracker AT901-B, AT910-LR with Tcam and TProbe

The Leica Absolute Tracker AT901 integrates the IFM and AMD operations into an absolute interferometer (AIFM) that can operate dynamically like an IFM but retain the accuracy of the ADM throughout the entire measurement range. There is no minimal distance for operation of the ADM and the measurement range of the instrument has been expanded to a 160 m volume. The overall coordinate accuracy is 15 µm +6 µm/m.

The Leica TCam and TProbe features of the AT910-LR adds CMM coordinate contact and 6-DOF measurements up to 60 m with a selection of styluses and probes.


This facility uses the Geodetic Services V STARS/S Photogrammetric Measurement System which allows fast, noncontact, full field, high precision, fully automated measurements of static retroreflective target coordinates. Photogrammetric surveys include thermal distortion tests of items such as antenna reflectors. Thermal distortion tests are performed in the DFL's largest thermal vacuum chamber, TV5 Chamber (7x10) with the system operated remotely in a vacuum proof canister. The system is used for deployment repeatability and thermal distortion tests on surfaces or structures to an accuracy of 10 ppm.

The single camera photogrammetry system consists of the following capabilities:

Theodolite measurement and alignment system

The theodolite measurement and alignment system consists of the following:

Kern-E2-EC electronic theodolites

The Kern E2 EC Electronic theodolite has direct readout to 1 sec (0.3 mgon) and is two axes compensated for automatic correction of the vertical and horizontal readings to a gravity reference. The theodolites are able to perform autocollimation orientation and triangulation coordinate measurements associated with the integration and testing of spacecraft systems and scientific instruments. The system may be operated in a single theodolite mode, employing a single theodolite mounted on a vertical tooling bar and the test article mounted on a precision rotary table or in a standalone multiple theodolite setup. The system can perform both autocollimation measurements on mirror cubes for orientation as well as coordinate measurements through multiple measurement point triangulation.

Rotary table

The DFL has a 1.21 m (48 in) LFW 48 Rotab precision rotary table that is mounted to a Starrett 2.44 x 1.21 x 0.25 m thick (96 x 48 x 10 inch) granite block.

Alignment stands

The DFL has a large selection of alignment stands and vertical tool bars:

Manufacturer Model Height range Quantity
Brunson 230 ~ 1.21 to 1.83 m
(~ 48 to 72 in)
232 1.88 to 3.05 m
(74 to 120 in)
Vertical tooling bar 0.31 to 7.62 m
(1 to 25 ft)
K & E 5025 ~ 1.21 to 1.78 m
(~ 48 to 70 in)
(71 5015) 1.91 m to 3.82
(75 to 150 in)

Aeroacoustics facility

Critical to the dynamic qualification phase of many space programs is the effect of acoustically induced vibration in spacecraft structures. The DFL assists in the conduct of these tests in collaboration with the Institute for Aerospace Research of the National Research Council of Canada, located in Ottawa.

The Institute for Aerospace Research maintains a large, high intensity noise, acoustic test facility for development, qualification, and acceptance testing of space hardware to support industry and other government departments. This is a unique national facility in which aerospace structures and equipment may be subjected to an environment of intense noise, thereby simulating the effect of rocket and jet engines or high speed aerodynamic flows.

The facility uses a large source of compressed air to drive very powerful, computer controlled noise generators for simulating aeroacoustic noise fields. Unique proprietary noise generators are used to accurately shape and simulate high frequency spectral bands from 1,000 to 10,000 Hz. Typical examples of high level aeroacoustic noise sources include rocket exhausts, high speed fans, propellers, and jets. Complementary disciplines of aeroacoustic research and test include structural dynamics, automatic adaptive control, noise spectrum analysis, and digital signal processing.

The Aeroacoustics Test Facility includes two reverberant chambers and a progressive wave tube:

A computer-based automatic control system accurately controls the spectrum input to the chamber

360° video of the Structural Qualification Facilities

360° video of the Structural Qualification Facilities

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