Why engineers are blasting NASA's Orion spaceship with 1,500 maxed-out stereo speakers

Before NASA actually shoots a ship into space, the agency puts it through some exhaustive testing to make sure it can handle the stresses of space travel.

Popular Science reports that along with the literal stress of blasting off and traveling through space, the Orion capsule will also be shaken up quite a bit from the roar of the rockets strapped beneath it during liftoff. What effect will that roar have on the craft? A team at Lockheed Martin, the firm tasked with building the Orion capsule, is using the greatest stereo setup in history to get the answer.

Lockheed Martin has set up more than 1,500 speakers around the Orion capsule, and they’re using the rig to blast the craft at 143 decibels. For the sake of comparison, that’s comparable to standing 50 feet from a  jet engine. In the past, tests of these kinds have caused brackets and segments of craft and equipment to break, uncovering flaws that can be repaired long before the ship ever makes it out of testing. Typically, the ship is disassembled and taken to an acoustic testing facility, but in this case Lockheed Martin brought the test to the ship.

A note: Before you think the research team is just using a mountain of old speakers to blast “Who Let The Dogs Out?” at the future of space travel, we’ll clarify that they’re using a high-tech algorithm to ensure the sound is distributed evenly, and the results are being recorded on and around the craft with 100 microphones. As silly as it may seem, this really could save lives down the line.

So, future astronauts, rest easy — you'll be able to crank up the Bowie to 11 and still be perfectly safe on launch day.


(Via Popular Science)

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