A primary spacecraft design consideration is the anticipation and mitigation of the possible damage that might occur in the event of an on-orbit micro-meteoroid or orbital debris (MMOD) particle impact. While considerable effort has been expended in the study of non-pressurized spacecraft components under room temperature conditions to MMOD impacts, technical and safety challenges have limited the number of tests that have been conducted on pressurized elements of such spacecraft, especially under cryogenic conditions. This paper presents the development of a data-driven equation for composite material pressure vessels under cryogenic operating conditions that differentiate between impact conditions that, given a tank wall perforation, would result in only a small hole or crack from those that would cause catastrophic tank failure. This equation would be useful to a spacecraft designer who might be able to tailor the design parameters and operating conditions of, for example, a fuel tank so that if such a tank were to be struck and perforated by the impact of an MMOD particle, then only a hole would occur and neither catastrophic spacecraft failure nor additional sizable debris would be created as a result of that impact.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

COPV; Cryogenic; Hypervelocity impact; Orbital debris; Rupture

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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Publication Date

01 Mar 2018