One of the major design considerations of earth-orbiting spacecraft is the damage that might occur from an impact by a micrometeoroid or orbital debris particle. Ballistic limit equations (BLEs), which predict the response of spacecraft components under impact, are one of the key components of any micrometeoroid / orbital debris risk assessment calculation. However, given that a limited number of BLEs have been developed, analysts will sometimes use a BLE to assess the impact projectile made of a material that was not used in the development of that BLE. This paper presents the results of a two-part study that focused non-aluminum projectiles impacting aluminum dual-wall structures. In the first, results from high-speed impact tests using non-aluminum projectiles were compared against the predictions of a commonly used dual-wall BLE. In nearly all cases, this BLE was found not to work sufficiently well in predicting the high-speed impact response of non-aluminum projectiles. In the second, the dual-wall BLE was modified to more correctly predict the response of such wall systems to the high-speed impact of non-aluminum projectiles. This modified BLE was found to be much improved in predicting whether or not a high-speed non-aluminum projectile would perforate a dual-wall system.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


The research was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Keywords and Phrases

Ballistic limit equation; Hypervelocity impact; Non-aluminum projectiles; Space debris

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Article - Journal

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Final Version

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Publication Date

01 Aug 2020