A requirement was developed to expose the upper stage of the Centaur in the final flight configuration to intense acoustic and thermal environments. To satisfy this requirement a large state-of-the-art acoustic and thermal test facility was constructed. The facility consists of a 1840.8 m3 (65,000 ft3) reverberation chamber and a 1316.9 m3 (46,500 ft3) thermal chamber housed in a single clean environment facility.
The acoustic chamber has an overall sound pressure capability of 154 dB with uniformity within -2 to +4 dB. The sound intensity is created by a four-horn matrix with a frequency range of 25 to 10,000 Hz. The thermal chamber has a temperature range capability of -35 to +185° F with a uniformity of ±5°. The thermal chamber air is humidity controlled and filtered to maintain cleanliness standards. Both chambers are supported by modern digital data acquisition and control systems located in a 175.2 m2 (1886 ft2) control room.
The facility has the capability to store and transfer cryogenic liquids into the Centaur vehicle. Problems encountered during the design and construction are discussed along with the test program that was performed to validate the facility. Suggestions are made to future builders of large acoustic or thermal test facilities.