Protecting Spacecraft Against MMOD Impact Damage: Are Spheres Really the Correct Shape to Use in Impact Predictions?


Meteoroids and orbital debris (MMOD) pose a serious damage threat to all spacecraft. Extensive studies continue to be performed that are devoted to investigating and assessing the MMOD threat, as well as to protecting spacecraft through a variety of shielding techniques. Dual-wall configurations have repeatedly been shown to provide large increases in protection against perforation by relatively small high-speed projectiles over equivalent single-wall structures. in this paper, ballistic limit equations (BLEs) for various non-spherical projectile shapes are presented in several formats and compared against a corresponding spherical projectile-Based BLE. It is shown that, depending on how BLEs are presented, the effect of projectile shape on penetrating ability is not as severe as once thought and that a sphere is not necessarily the least damaging projectile shape. While easier to analyze, the sphere may in many cases actually result in heavier shields than flakes or cubes when considering how the orbital debris environment is actually described - which is using a radar cross section (RCS) basis.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

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Article - Conference proceedings

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Publication Date

01 Jul 2007

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