Un blog de Universitat Politècnica de Valéncia, Campus de Gandia.

Metamaterial to Reduce Noise in Space Rocket Launches

The high sound pressure levels experienced by space rockets during liftoff are due to the sound waves that are generated by the rocket engines and bounce off the launch pads, among other factors. The acoustic field is so intense that it creates shockwaves in the rocket that can damage both the cargo being transported (usually satellites) and the rocket’s instruments. This is the reason behind the study of a metamaterial designed to absorb nearly 100% of the incident sound energy.

Researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), belonging to Campus Gandia, the Institute of Instrumentation for Molecular Imaging (i3M), the University Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics and the Department of Continuous Media and Theory of Structures, have been working since 2019 on the Launch Sound Level Reduction project, funded by the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Campus Gandia researcher, Víctor Sánchez, an expert in Acoustics, is heading this project on behalf of the UPV, in participation with the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Le Mans University and the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), as well as the Valencian company COMET Engineering S.L., who is the project’s main contractor for ESA.

The principal aim of the project is “the design, manufacture and characterization of an acoustic metamaterial prototype capable of absorbing a large part of the acoustic energy at the rocket launch pad,” indicated Rubén Picó, a researcher from Campus Gandia.

José Manuel Requena, a project researcher, has taken part in the development of the metamaterial prototype. “Numerical simulation tools have been used to design it. The concept was created by injecting ABS plastic into an aluminum mold, producing 1,600 pieces that were subsequently assembled to form a panel. The acoustic characterization of the prototype was carried out in the anechoic chamber art Campus Gandia.”


Con anterioridad al proyecto, el personal investigador del Campus de Gandia ha participado en otros dos proyectos financiados a su vez por la ESA: el proyecto Sonic Crystals for Noise Reduction at the Launchpad y el proyecto Acoustic Noise Reduction Methods for the Launch Pad. En este último, Iván Herrero desarrolló su tesis doctoral “Métodos de reducción de ruido acústico para la plataforma de lanzamiento”, defendida en 2020.

Prior to the project, Campus Gandia research staff  have participated in two other projects also financed by the ESA: the Sonic Crystals for Noise Reduction at the Launchpad project and the Acoustic Noise Reduction Methods for the Launch Pad project. The latter was the basis for Iván Herrero’s doctoral dissertation titled “Acoustic noise reduction methods for the launch pad”, defended in 2020.

Source: Laida Frasquet, Journalist for the Office of Communications at the UPV

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