Development of acoustic mufflers for cabin noise reduction in Orion spacecraft

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Abstract

Controlling cabin acoustic noise levels in the Crew Module (CM) of the Orion spacecraft is critical for adequate speech intelligibility, avoid fatigue, and prevent any possibility of temporary and permanent hearing loss to the crew. The primary source of cabin noise for the on-orbit phase of the mission is from the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) which recycles and conditions breathing air and maintains cabin pressurization through its ducting network and components. Unfortunately, as a side effect, noise from the ECLSS fans propagates through theses ducts and emanate into the cabin habitable volume via the ECLSS inlet and outlets. To mitigate excessive duct-borne noise, two ECLSS mufflers have been designed to provide significant acoustic transmission loss (TL) so that the cabin noise requirements can be met. Each muffler is meant to be installed in the ducting of the ECLSS air inlet and outlet sides, respectively. Packaging constraints and tight volume requirements necessitated the mufflers to be of complex geometry and compatible with the bends of the ECLSS duct layout. To design and characterize the acoustic performance of the inlet and outlet mufflers, computational acoustic models were developed using the Finite Element Method (FEM) with  software. Characterization of the acoustic material and perforations in the mufflers were addressed with poro-elastic theory. Once the mufflers were designed on paper and its TL predicted, prototypes of these mufflers were created using additive manufacturing. The muffler prototypes were subsequently tested for acoustic TL in the laboratory with various configurations of acoustic materials. Comparing the analytical predictions to the test performance yielded excellent correlation for acoustic TL and demonstrated significant broadband noise attenuation. The ECLSS mufflers are currently scheduled to be installed on the Artemis II CM of the Orion spacecraft and will provide significant cabin comfort to crew during the mission.