Structural Test Design and Interpretation for Aerospace – Virtual Webinar Live

Start Dates:

Start Date 1: 08/31/2020 8:00 am


Location Course 1: Virtual Webinar Live

Course Length:



$2090 per person


This three-day course provides a rigorous look at structural testing and its roles in product development and verification for aerospace programs. The course starts with a broad view of structural verification throughout product development and the role of testing. The course then covers planning, designing, performing, interpreting, and documenting a test. The course covers static loads testing at low- and high-levels of assembly, modal survey testing and math-model correlation, sine-sweep and sine-burst testing, and random vibration testing.

An optional 4th day, September 3, 2020, is available with a computer workshop on notching and force limiting. The tuition for all four days of training is $2,690.


What you will learn:

  • Identify and clearly state test objectives
  • Design (or recognize) a test that satisfies the identified objectives while minimizing risk
  • Establish pass/fail criteria
  • Design the instrumentation
  • Interpret test data
  • Write a good test plan and a good test report

Who should attend:

All engineers and managers involved in ensuring that flight vehicles and their payloads are structurally safe to fly. This course is intended to be an effective follow-up Instar’s course “Space-Mission Structures (SMS): From Concept to Launch”, although that course is not a prerequisite.

Course Outline:

  1. Overview of Structural TestingWhy do a structural test? Structural requirements; the building-blocks verification process; verification logic flows; qualification, acceptance, and protoflight testing; selecting the right type of test; two things all tests need; test management: documents, reviews, and controls
  2. Designing and Documenting a TestDesigning a test, suggested contents of a test plan, test-article configuration, boundary conditions, ensuring adequacy of a strength test, a key difference between a qualification test and a proof test, success criteria and effective instrumentation, preparing to interpret test data, documenting with a test report
  3. Loads Testing of Small SpecimensApplications and objectives, common loading systems, test standards, case history: designing a test to substantiate new NASA criteria for analysis of preloaded bolts
  4. Static Loads Testing of Large AssembliesIntroduction to static loads testing, special considerations, introducing and controlling loads, developing the load cases, example: developing load cases for a truss structure, be sure to design the right test!, centrifuge testing
  5. Testing on an Electrodynamic ShakerTest configuration, limitations of testing on a shaker, fixture design, deriving loads from measured accelerations, sine-sweep testing, sine- burst testing, understanding random vibration, random vibration testing, interpreting test data
  6. Notching and Force Limiting.Understanding notching, case history of notching without technical rationale, methods of notching, force limiting, designing a force-limiting fixture, NASA’s semi-empirical method, examples, modification during test, response limiting, manual notching.
  7. Modal Survey Testing and Math ModelCorrelation Test objectives and target modes, designing a modal survey test, key considerations, test configuration and approaches, checking the test data, correlating the math model
  8. Case History: Vibration Testing of a Spacecraft TelescopeCase History: Vibration Testing of a Spacecraft Telescope Overview, initial structural test plan, problem statement, revised test plan, testing at the telescope assembly level, testing at the vehicle level, lessons learned and conclusions
  9. Summary



REGISTRATION:  There is no obligation or payment required to enter the Registration for an actively scheduled course.   We understand that you may need approvals but please register as early as possible or contact us so we know of your interest in this course offering.

SCHEDULING:  If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead-time.   To express your interest in an open enrollment course not on our current schedule, please email us at

For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at


  • Tom Sarafin worked full time in the space industry since 1979. He worked over 13 years at Martin Marietta Astronautics, where he contributed to and led activities in structural analysis, design, and test, mostly for large spacecraft. Since founding Instar Engineering in 1993, he’s consulted for ASA, DigitalGlobe, Lockheed Martin, Space Test Program, and other organizations” to “… NASA, DOD Space Test Program, DigitalGlobe, Lockheed Martin, and other organizations. He’s helped the U. S. Air Force Academy design, develop, and verify a series of small satellites and has been an advisor to DARPA. He was a member of the core team that developed NASA-STD-5020 and continues to serve on that team to help address issues with threaded fasteners at NASA. 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. Since 1995, he has taught over 200 courses to more than 4000 engineers and managers in the space industry.

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