Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Kira Abercromby


Shock is one of the environmental tests that a spacecraft must pass before being cleared for launch. Shock testing poses a challenging data acquisition issue and careful selection of equipment is crucial to creating a successful shock test facility. Cal Poly’s CubeSat programs can currently perform all environmental testing other than shock themselves, so a quality shock table would be useful. Previous groups of students had developed a shock table, and this paper details the improvement and characterization of that shock table’s behavior. Several adjustable parameters were tested and documented to discover trends in the shock table’s response to an impact from a pendulum hammer. Then a test meant to mimic an actual shock test was performed. The CubeSat program provided a component to be tested and a requirement to be met. The nominal requirement is proprietary and cannot be given here, and additional stipulations included the test data being within a given tolerance band and at least 50% of the test data having a larger magnitude than the nominal requirement. The requirement needed to be met in all three of the component’s axes. The component was mounted to the shock table and acceleration data was collected and analyzed. A successful test was conducted in one axis, which was the result of impacting the large face of the aluminum shock table plate. The tests in the other two axes, conducted with impacts to the side of the aluminum plate, failed to meet the requirement. A finite element model of the table was developed and correlated to the test data. A new way of attaching the test component to the table was developed that would allow for testing in all three axes to be performed with impacts to the large face of the aluminum plate. A dynamic finite element analysis was performed, and the results indicate that this new attachment method should allow the requirement to be met in all three axes. The shock table is currently fully operational and can be used for testing and teaching purposes. With the implementation of the new attachment method, it is believed that the CubeSat program’s requirements can be met as well.