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ATI's Effective Structural Verification for Space Programs course

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    Technical Training Short On Site Course Quote

      This course provides a rigorous look at what it takes to ensure space hardware is structurally able to withstand mission environments and meet mission objectives. The course also addresses structural verification for ground support equipment. Emphasis is on concepts, processes, and what to look for rather than on equations. The objectives are to improve your understanding of:
      • How to establish (or recognize) sound plans, criteria, and processes for ensuring payloads can safely withstand launch and other flight environments
      • How to design a structural test, prepare for it, and interpret test data
      • How to assess effectiveness of a proposed test
      • How to document and present verification A calculator is needed to work class problems.


    Tom Sarafin has worked full time in the space industry since 1979. He spent over 13 years at Martin Marietta Astronautics, where he contributed to and led activities in structural analysis, design, and test, mostly for large spacecraft. He has consulted for Space Imaging, DigitalGlobe, Lockheed Martin, and other companies. He has helped the United States Air Force Academy design, develop, and test a series of small satellites and has been an advisor to DARPA. He is the editor and principal author of Spacecraft Structures and Mechanisms: From Concept to Launch and is a contributing author to Space Mission Analysis and Design (all three editions). Since 1995, he has taught over 100 courses to more than 2400 engineers and managers in the space industry.

    Contact this instructor (please mention course name in the subject line)

Who Should Attend:

    The target audience for this course includes all engineers involved in ensuring that launch-vehicle payloads can withstand flight loads and still perform as needed during the mission. It is an advanced course and assumes significant knowledge of structural requirements going in.

Course Outline:

  1. Overview of Structural Requirements and Verification
    Structural functions and requirements, effects of the space environment, categories of structures, how launch affects things structurally, launch environments, understanding verification, applicable standards

  2. Verification Planning
    The building-blocks approach to verification, verification methods and logic, process control and inspection, protoflight vs. qualification testing, types of tests, how the verification differs for small and large flight structures

  3. Review of Mechanics
    Load and displacement, static equilibrium, the equation of motion, modes of vibration, stress and strain, understanding material variation, the benefits of ductility, thermoelastic effects, mechanics of composite materials

  4. Stress Analysis: Assessing Structural Integrity
    What it means to assess structural integrity, the process for verifying structural integrity, the margin of safety, establishing the limit load, establishing the allowable load, verifying structural integrity is never based on analysis alone, an effective process for strength analysis, common modes of failure, case histories

  5. Assessing Buckling
    Forms of buckling, elastic column buckling, inelastic buckling, accounting for misalignment

  6. Special Considerations for Materials and Threaded Fasteners
    Material selection, corrosion, dimensions and tolerances, establishing preload in a bolted joint, maintaining preload with an effective locking feature, friction, the importance of standardization

  7. Fatigue, Fracture Mechanics, and Fracture Control
    Fatigue, fracture mechanics, elements of fracture control, satisfying NASA's requirements for fracture control (Shuttle payloads)

  8. Designing an Effective Test
    Designing a test, boundary conditions, key differences between a qualification test and an acceptance or proof test, success criteria and effective instrumentation, accelerometers, strain gages, displacement gages, preparing to interpret test data

  9. Testing on an Electrodynamic Shaker

    Test configuration, sine-sweep testing, sine-burst testing, random vibration testing, notching and force limiting

  10. Verification for Large Flight Structures Special considerations for large flight structures, verification approach, coupled loads analysis, modal surveys, centrifuge testing, static loads testing, acoustic testing

  11. Structural Verification for Ground Support Equipment
    Design priorities and philosophy for mechanical GSE, references for design and test, typical criteria for design and test, watching out for potential instability, case histories

  12. Documenting and Presenting Structural Verification
    Guidelines for effective documentation and communication, putting yourself in your customer's shoes, excerpts from sample documents, test plans and test design reviews, test reports


    Please call us at 410-956-8805 or send an email to for pricing and scheduling information for this three-day course.