Commercial space launch vehicle activities are expected to increase, and as they begin testing and become operational there are many noise issues as well as the effects from sonic booms that need to be evaluated. Those impacts on the community are dependent upon such factors as the number of operations, the launch pad configuration, and the type of launch vehicle among others. There are four known types of launch vehicles: those that take-off horizontally with a rocket igniting later launching the vehicle, those that take-off horizontally under rocket power, those that are attached to an aircraft that take-off and later released, and those that take-off vertically.
Currently airports use the Integrated Noise Model (INM) to evaluate the effects of aircraft noise. INM will soon be replaced with the Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT) but neither tool has the ability to predict noise and sonic boom from commercial space operations. As commercial space launches are still maturing, data has not yet been compiled of the noise parameters of launch vehicles, nor has there been a method(s) developed that can be used with AEDT for environmental analysis.
The objectives of this research are to (1) develop a set of noise and sonic boom model(s) suitable for environmental analysis of commercial space operations and airport/space launch site facilities that are compatible with, or can be integrated into AEDT; (2) develop a database of existing rocket/engine/motor data for commercial space launch operations; and (3) describe the approval process for the noise and sonic boom evaluations from airport/space launch operations. The model(s) need to (1) be applicable to vertical and horizontal launches; (2) distinguish between noise and sonic booms; and (3) should consider the following factors at a minimum: atmospheric conditions, flight paths, vehicle type, launch platform configuration, and the number of operations. The database should be updatable and include the following parameters at a minimum: thrust, nozzle exit velocity, nozzle exit diameter, number of nozzles, directivity index, angle of max sound, sound pressure levels, type of vehicle, and type of propulsion systems. For sonic booms, the parameters should include vehicle design and operational parameters and other relevant obtainable data.
The research plan should include appropriate interim deliverables for ACRP review and approval that include at minimum a (1) list of the database fields; (2) demonstration of the model; (3) model validation plan; and (4) an interim report that describes work done in previous tasks, provides an analysis of the information collected, updates the work plan, and includes an annotated outline of the user’s manual for the model(s). The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed, (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, and (3) web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate. The final deliverables will include: (1) the database; (2), model and user’s manual; (3) outline of the approval process; (4) a contractor’s final report that documents the entire project, incorporating all other specified deliverable products of the research that includes the research team's recommendation of research needs and priorities for additional related research; and (5) an executive summary.