Rupture of Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels Following a Hypervelocity MMOD Particle Impact


Most spacecraft have at least one pressurized vessel on board. Because of the potential of serious mission-threatening damage that might result following an on-orbit micro-meteoroid or orbital debris (MMOD) particle impact, one of the primary design considerations of such spacecraft is the anticipation and mitigation of the damage that might occur in the event of such an impact. Until recently, a number of challenges have limited the testing that has been conducted on the pressurized elements of such spacecraft. In an effort to address this issue, a testing and analysis program was undertaken to characterize the hypervelocity impact response of composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPV)s. In this paper we present the development of a new equation for COPVs that, in a manner similar to that of a ballistic limit equation, is able to differentiate between regions of operating and impact conditions that, given a tank wall perforation, would result in either tank rupture or only a relatively small hole or crack. This is an important consideration in the design of a pressurized tank where design parameters and operating conditions can be chosen so as to avoid the creation of additional sizable debris in the event of tank rupture or catastrophic failure following an on-orbit MMOD impact. Comparison with experimental results shows that the equation developed does an excellent job in separating the region of rupture from that of non-rupture for the impact conditions and COPV materials and geometries considered in this investigation.

Meeting Name

2018 AIAA/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference (2018: Jan. 8-12, Kissimmee, FL)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Aviation; Ballistics; Dynamics; Orbits; Software testing; Space debris; Structural dynamics; Tanks (containers); Ballistic limit equations; Catastrophic failures; Composite overwrapped pressure vessels; Design parameters; Hypervelocity impacts; Operating condition; Particle impact; Pressurized vessels; Pressure vessels

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2018 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2018