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Evaluation of enhanced shielding configurations against hypervelocity particle impacts for future unmanned spacecraft

: Hupfer, Jan; Putzar, Robin; David, Matthieu; Aridon, Gwenaëlle; Gergonne, Bernard; Cougnet, Claude; Schäfer, Frank

International Astronautical Federation:
64th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2013. Vol.3 : Beijing, China, 23 - 27 September 2013
Red Hook, NY: Curran, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62993-909-4
International Astronautical Congress (IAC) <64, 2013, Beijing>
European Commission EC
FP7; 262156; REVUS
Fraunhofer EMI ()

Space debris is a growing problem for unmanned spacecraft. State-of-the-art satellites are typically designed to withstand most impacts with particles not exceeding 0.1 cm in diameter. Large debris, exceeding 10 cm, can be detected and avoided using evasive maneuvers. Objects from 0.1 cm to 10 cm, however, can be neither tracked nor ignored and therefore pose a serious threat to current and future missions. As the particle population in Earth orbit is expected to increase, future spacecraft will require enhanced protection against particle impact to ensure reliable operation during the specified spacecraft lifetime.
As part of the EU funded FP7 research project ReVuS (Reducing the Vulnerability of Space Systems), the configurations typically found on board unmanned spacecraft with respect to particle impacts were identified. In a second step, potential enhancements to those typical configurations to increase the robustness against particle impacts were analyzed. These enhancements include e.g. additional protective layers made from aluminum, Kevlar, Nextel, stainless steel mesh and ceramics. Based on the results of a preliminary test campaign (including approx. 30 screening hypervelocity impact tests), enhanced shielding configurations were developed. The ballistic limit of five such enhanced configurations was determined at 7 km/s during a second test campaign. Finally, analyses were performed to evaluate the protection gain and impact (e.g. with respect to mass) of the enhanced configurations on future spacecraft.
This paper describes the enhanced shielding configurations, the hypervelocity impact test campaigns (including test rationale, test plan and test results) and presents the results of the analyses performed.