Hypervelocity impact on spacecraft components.
Hochgeschwindigkeits-Einschläge auf Komponenten von Raumfahrzeugen
Space vehicles, operating on a long-term basis, need to be protected against meteoroid and space debris impacts, since especially space debris has become a continuously increasing threat. Appropriate shield systems have to be designed and tested. Acceleration facilities capable of delivering meteoroid and debris velocities are used to perform impact simulation experiments in which fundamental processes of hypervelocity impact as well as the protection behaviour of shield configurations can be investigated. Essentially three types of instruments are used for this purpose: plasma guns, light gas guns and electromagnetic guns. In this paper, the operation principle of these devices will be briefly described. Special emphasis is given to a performance upgrading program for a light gas gun, which was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The application of impact simulation experiments is demonstrated for two space missions (Giotto, Columbus).