SBIRS Wide Field of View Acoustic Testing: The Sound of Innovation

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  • SMC Public Affairs

The Space and Missile Systems Center Remote Sensing Systems Directorate (SMC/RS) and its L3 Technologies and Millennium Space Systems industry partners successfully completed Acoustic Testing on the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Wide Field of View (WFOV) program optical payload on Aug. 23. The joint Air Force and Industry team used an innovative new testing method to recreate the sound and vibrational pressures that a payload will be subject to during launch.  This successful test verifies the WFOV payload will survive those launch pressures. 


The WFOV demonstrator will test advanced designs to continuously monitor up to one-third of the Earth’s surface in view of the Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting satellite, and is part of SMC’s Space Modernization Initiative (SMI) for the Air Force’s Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) mission. It will enhance capabilities to detect threats to the U.S. and our allies and provide mission risk reduction for the Next Generation OPIR program.  Successful Acoustic Testing is a significant milestone which keeps WFOV on track for launch. 


“Traditionally, Acoustic Testing is performed in specialized third-party facilities after the spacecraft has been fully assembled” said Maj. Vito Bussmann, program manager for the WFOV Testbed.  “For WFOV, we worked with our industry partners to develop an innovative approach to testing in place at an L3 facility using a realistic simulator.  This allowed us to move faster, reduce technical risk, and would have allowed us ample time to address any issues had they arisen”. 


The new type of Acoustic Testing involved assembling an 18-foot high circular wall of speakers with the payload on top of a simulated spacecraft bus in the middle.  The spacecraft assembly was blasted for a full minute from all sides with sound pressure equal to a rocket launch, which is approximately six times louder than a large rock concert.  This successful test not only confirms WFOV is ready for launch, but adds a rapid, reduced risk testing method Air Force Space Command can use for future payload acoustic testing.