Progress in reducing vibration levels on the Naval Postgraduate School Cube-Sat launcher
Lan, Wenschel D.
Newman, James H.
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The Operationally Unique Technologies Satellite (OUTSat), the Government Experimental Multi-Satellite (GEMSat), and the Unique Lightweight Technology and Research Auxiliary Satellite (ULTRASat) missions, launched in 2012, 2013, and May 2015, successfully deployed a total of 33 CubeSats from Poly-Picosatellite Orbital Deployers (P-PODS) mounted to the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) CubeSat Launcher (NPSCuL) on the aft end of the Atlas V Centaur upper stage. An additional 13 CubeSats are scheduled to launch on the Government Rideshare Advanced Concepts Experiment (GRACE) in September 2015. Force-limited vibration testing (FLVT) has been effective on all four missions in reducing the low-frequency vibration test environment at the P-POD interface on NPSCuL; however, the CubeSats were still subjected to high-frequency amplifications from the NPSCuL structure. Implementing commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) isolators at the base of the NPSCuL structure has recently been shown to significantly reduce the high-frequency amplifications. This paper discusses the testing and the resulting 35-85% drop in overall G(RMS) vibration test levels, a welcome reduction in the CubeSat vibration test envirionment on NPSCuL. This reduction should allow more sensitive payloads to fly on future NPSCuL missions, and the implementation of low-cost, COTS isolators could possibly be useful for other small satellites and CubeSat launch applications.
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