Current Design Criteria for MMOD Impact of Metallic Pressurized Tanks


Most spacecraft have at least one pressurized vessel on board. For robotic spacecraft, it is usually a liquid propellant tank or battery. For human spacecraft, there are also pressurized living quarters and life-support systems. One of the design considerations of such spacecraft is the possible damage that might occur in the event of an on-orbit impact by a micrometeoroid or orbital debris (MMOD) particle. While considerable energy and effort has been expended in the study of the response of nonpressurized spacecraft components to these kinds of impacts, relatively few studies have been conducted on the pressurized elements of such spacecraft. In addition, the design criteria currently used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for pressurized tanks operating in the MMOD environment have not been tested or scrutinized since they were first proposed nearly 45 years ago. This paper reviews current NASA design criteria for pressurized vessels and offers suggestions for next steps in their further development.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Design; Liquid propellants; NASA; Orbits; Space debris; Spacecraft; Spacecraft propulsion; Tanks (containers); Design considerations; Design criteria; On orbit; Orbital debris; Pressurized vessels; Robotic spacecrafts; Spacecraft components; Life support systems (spacecraft)

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Article - Journal

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© 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 2016