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Surviving Orbit the DIY Way by Sandy Antunes

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Chapter 7. G-Force Testing

Rockets are powerful stuff, and satellites and astronauts experience tremendous G-forces pushing down on them during launch. Your satellite will experience up to 10G (10 times Earth’s gravity) during launch. It is important to test this. For picosatellite work, it is necessary that your design be able to withstand these forces. To test this, the easiest way is to build a centrifuge. It is also easy to test. We’ll offer two systems—the lab-oriented motor centrifuge and a more casual rope centrifuge. Both can reach up to 3G force.

Think of the spinning bucket gimmick. If you tie a bucket to a rope and fill it with water, you can make the bucket swing in a loop-the-loop over your head and not spill, as long as it is spinning fast enough. You need enough spin to counteract the 1G of the Earth’s pull, so you need a spinning centrifuge of at least >1G.

Most homebuilt centrifuges are used by mad scientists doing medical or chemical studies that require they separate a fluid by density. For satellite building, we can use a far simpler design. Yes, you can actually just spin your satellite in a bucket at the end of a rope—or build a 3G spinning rig using an ordinary electric drill.

G-Force Theory

For both designs, you are going to spin your satellite on the end of a long rod or rope in order to create centrifugal force to mimic high G forces. This is how exciting amusement part rides can spin you and force you back into your seat (or why you get thrown against the ...

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