One of the primary design considerations of earth-orbiting spacecraft is the mitigation of the damage that might occur from an on-orbit MMOD impact. Traditional damage-resistant design consists of a 'bumper' that is placed a small distance away from a spacecraft component or from the wall of the element in which it is housed. The performance of such a multi-wall structural element is typically characterized by its ballistic limit equation (BLE), which defines the threshold particle size that results in a failure of the spacecraft element. BLEs are also key components of any micro-meteoroid/orbital debris (MMOD) risk assessment calculations. However, these assessments often call for BLEs to predict impact response for projectiles made of materials not used in the development of those BLEs. The question naturally arises regarding how close are the predictions of such BLEs when used in impact scenarios involving projectiles made of materials not necessarily considered in their development. In an effort to address this issue, a study was performed with the objective of assessing the validity of the NNO BLE for non-aluminum particles. Particle materials considered included steel, copper, and Al2O3 (i.e. particles that are made of materials that are more dense than aluminum). Comparisons are made between actual test results involving these non-aluminum projectiles and the predictions of the NNO BLE. In nearly all cases, the NNO BLE was found not to work very well in the predicting failure / no failure response of these non-aluminum projectiles. A new NNO-type BLE is then developed that can be used to more reliably predict the response of dual-wall systems under the hypervelocity impact of such "heavier" non-aluminum projectiles.

Meeting Name

14th Hypervelocity Impact Symposium 2017, HVIS2017 (2017: Apr. 24-28, Canterbury, UK)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Aluminum; Aluminum compounds; Aluminum powder metallurgy; Debris; Forecasting; Orbits; Particle size; Projectiles; Risk assessment; Space debris; Spacecraft; Aluminum projectiles; Ballistic limit equations; Dual-wall structures; Earth-orbiting spacecraft; Hypervelocity impacts; Orbital debris; Spacecraft components; Structural elements; Ballistics; Non-aluminum projectiles

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International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Final Version

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Publication Date

01 Apr 2017