Cost effective honeycomb and multi-layer insulation debris shields for unmanned spacecraft

Turner, Robert J.; Taylor, Emma A.; McDonnell, J. Anthony M.; Stokes, Hedley; Marriott, Peter; Wilkinson, Jenny; Catling, David J.; Vignjevic, Rade; Berthoud, Lucy and Lambert, Michel (2001). Cost effective honeycomb and multi-layer insulation debris shields for unmanned spacecraft. International Journal of Impact Engineering, 26(1-10) pp. 785–796.



Ways to improve the tolerance of unmanned spacecraft to hypervelocity impact are presented. Two new honeycomb and multi-layer insulation (MLI) shields were defined: (1) double honeycomb, and (2) enhanced or toughened MLI (with additional Kevlar 310 and/or Betacloth layers). Following hypervelocity impact testing, a new ballistic limit threshold was defined, based on rear facesheet perforation and witness plate damage characteristics. At 12 km/s, the ballistic limit of single honeycomb was 0.58 mm (aluminium sphere), rising to 0.91 mm for double honeycomb, 1.00 mm for double honeycomb with MLI and 1.17 mm for double honeycomb with toughened MLI. A damage equation, based on the modified Cour-Palais equation with ESA constants, was compared with the data and found to be conservative. The impact angle exponent was increased in order to reduce the equation under-prediction for the oblique incidence data. An equivalent rear wall thickness was defined in order to distinguish between shield types above 7 km/s. The spacecraft survivability analysis showed that the double honeycomb and toughened MLI significantly reduced the number of perforating particles over the baseline single honeycomb design. The mass increase of these shields is approximately 1.2 kg/m2 for double honeycomb and 0.8 kg/m2 for toughened MLI.

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