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

RJ Turner*, EA Taylor, JAM McDonnell, H Stokes, P Marriott, J Wilkinson, DJ Catling, R Vignjevic, L Berthoud, M Lambert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


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 turn (aluminium sphere), rising to 0.91 mm for double honeycomb, 1.00 mm for double honeycomb with MLI and 1.17 nun 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/m(2) for double honeycomb and 0.8 kg/m(2) for toughened MLI. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-796
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Impact Engineering
Issue number1-10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001
EventSymposium on Hypervelocity Impact - Galveston, Texas, United States
Duration: 6 Nov 200010 Nov 2000


  • debris
  • MLI
  • multi-layer insulation
  • spacecraft structure
  • hypervelocity
  • honeycomb

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