Research Projects

Commercial Space Transportation Noise Model Validation

Assigned to Michael James
Last Edited by Michael James

Accurate predictions of the noise environment in communities surrounding airports and spaceports from launch and reentry vehicle operations require models that have been validated over a range of vehicle types, operations, and atmospheric conditions. Research is needed to validate the commercial space operations noise models developed under ACRP 02-66 using the community noise measurement database collected under ACRP 02-81.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

The commercial space transportation sector is a rapidly growing market, with more than 130 different companies currently developing launch vehicles. To support the burgeoning number of launches, public airports in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and California have already acquired launch site operator licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and more airports across the United States are actively pursuing spaceport licenses. Before an airport can acquire a spaceport license, FAA regulations require analysis of the environmental impacts of proposed licensed and permitted actions. These analyses must include evaluations and assessments of potential noise and sonic boom impacts to the environment and local communities.
Accurate predictions of the noise exposure from launch and reentry vehicle operations require models that have been validated over a range of vehicle types, operations, and atmospheric conditions. To this end, the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) has supported two projects which serve as critical steps towards the development of validated models:
• The development of commercial space operations propulsion noise and sonic boom models, which are publicly available for industry use via the ACRP website (ACRP Project 02-66); and
• A successful measurement campaign to build a high-fidelity database of commercial space operations propulsion noise and sonic boom measurements for a range of active and licensed rockets (ACRP Project 02-81).
As a result of these two projects, the industry is now in a position, for the first time, to perform a validation of the space operations noise models using high-fidelity measurement data collected during launch and reentry operations of active licensed vehicles. The proposed research topic is needed to perform the necessary validation of the modeling tools and to provide recommendations for modeling enhancements. The culmination of these three research efforts (modeling, measurements, and validation) will result in validated propulsion noise and sonic boom models which can be used to accurately assess the noise impacts from commercial space operations.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The objective of this research is to validate the commercial space operations propulsion noise and sonic boom models' ability to accurately predict the noise environment in communities surrounding airports and spaceports. The research approach should include the design and implementation of a model validation plan to evaluate the models developed under ACRP 02-66 using the community noise measurement database collected under ACRP 02 81. This research should result in validated noise models and a road map for future research efforts to improve the models' accuracy.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

(1) Design and execute a model validation plan to:
a. Develop new/improved launch/reentry vehicle noise model inputs using the measurement database;
b. Evaluate the models' source and propagation algorithms' abilities to capture the unique characteristics of rocket propulsion noise and sonic booms compared to measurements; and
c. Design and conduct validation of the models using the measurement database.
(2) Provide an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the models' methods (e.g., inputs, assumptions, algorithms, outputs) and user experience (e.g., database coverage, runtime, output); and
(3) Provide a road map of potential model improvements, including a subset of near-term, high-priority improvements for immediate development and incorporation into the model that would result in more accurate predictions of rocket propulsion noise.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

The recommended funding to accomplish the stated objectives is $450k.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

No known or pending FAA space transportation noise model validation research projects are currently planned to address community noise impacts. A commercial space operations noise model was developed under ACRP 02-66 and completed in March 2017. A follow-on effort to perform commercial space operations noise measurements, ACRP 02-81, was completed in December 2019. The research products resulting from these two ACRP projects are integral to conducting the model validation and evaluation efforts presented in this topic.

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