Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris

Committee on International Space Station
Meteoroid/Debris Risk Management

Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board

Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1997



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Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris Committee on International Space Station Meteoroid/Debris Risk Management Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1997

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Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is interim president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Available in limited supply from: Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, HA 292, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20418, (202) 334-2855 Additional copies available for sale from:National Academy Press , 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W.Box 285,Washington, D.C.20055.1-800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area). http://www.nap.edu Copyright 1997 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Cover Illustration: BUMPER finite element model of the International Space Station. Critical items are colored to represent predicted probability of collision with 1 cm diameter and larger debris. Red represents the highest predicted probability of impact and blue the lowest. Source: NASA.

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Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION METEOROID/DEBRIS RISK MANAGEMENT GEORGE GLEGHORN (chair), TRW Space and Technology Group (retired), Rancho Palos Verdes, California DALE ATKINSON, POD Associates, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico ROBERT CULP, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado DENNIS GRADY, Applied Research Associates, Albuquerque, New Mexico MICHAEL GRIFFIN, Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Virginia FREDERICK HAUCK, International Technology Underwriters, Bethesda, Maryland NICHOLAS JOHNSON, Kaman Sciences Corporation, Colorado Springs, Colorado (from October 1, 1995, to April 8, 1996) THOMAS KELLY, Consultant, Cutchogue, New York PAUL KINZEY, Naval Safety Center, Norfolk, Virginia Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board Staff Paul Shawcross, Study Director JoAnn Clayton-Townsend, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board Director Victoria Friedensen, Senior Project Assistant

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Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ENGINEERING BOARD JOHN D. WARNER (chair), The Boeing Company, Seattle, Washington STEVEN AFTERGOOD, Federation of American Scientists, Washington, D.C. GEORGE A. BEKEY, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California GUION S. BLUFORD, JR., NYMA, Inc., Brook Park, Ohio RAYMOND S. COLLADAY, Lockheed-Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colorado BARBARA C. CORN, BC Consulting, Inc., Searcy, Arizona STEVEN D. DORFMAN, Hughes Electronics Corporation, Los Angeles, California DONALD C. FRASER, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts DANIEL HASTINGS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts FREDERICK HAUCK, International Technology Underwriters, Bethesda, Maryland WILLIAM H. HEISER, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado WILLIAM HOOVER, U.S. Air Force (retired), Williamsburg, Virginia BENJAMIN HUBERMAN, Huberman Consulting Group, Washington, D.C. BERNARD L. KOFF, Pratt & Whitney, West Palm Beach, Florida FRANK E. MARBLE, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California C. JULIAN MAY, Technical Operations International, Inc., Kennesaw, Georgia GRACE M. ROBERTSON, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California GEORGE SPRINGER, Stanford University, Stanford, California Staff JoAnn Clayton-Townsend, Director

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Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris Preface Protecting the International Space Station (ISS) from meteoroid and debris impact poses a unique challenge because of the station’s large size, high value, and planned long lifetime. To mitigate the meteoroid and debris hazard, the ISS program has developed a strategy involving shielding, collision avoidance, and damage control. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) asked the National Research Council to review this strategy and to recommend changes, where appropriate. In response, the National Research Council formed the Committee on International Space Station Meteoroid/Debris Risk Management. (The charge to the committee is contained in Appendix A.) The committee found that the meteoroid and debris environment the space station will encounter is increasingly well understood, that the program for shielding ISS modules appears extensive and thorough, and that the development of damage control procedures and hardware has begun. In this report, the committee recommends changes to the ISS meteoroid/debris risk mitigation program that should serve to further strengthen the current program. Although this report focuses on the shielding, collision avoidance, and damage control measures that the ISS program can take to reduce the hazard posed by meteoroids and debris, it is important to note that the success of these measures will also be affected by the efforts of others to reduce the generation of orbital debris in low Earth orbit. For several years, the United States and other space-faring nations have been working to reduce the production of new orbital debris. Without continued resolute action to minimize the creation of new debris, the hazard to the ISS could rise considerably over the operational lifetime of the station.

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Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris The committee wishes to thank the many experts at NASA, the Air Force Space Command, the U.S. Space Command, the Russian Space Research Center Kosmos, RKK Energia, Boeing, and Lockheed-Martin who briefed the committee and provided background information over the course of the study. I would personally like to thank the members of the committee for their time and effort spent on the study and in writing this report. I am also indebted to Paul Shawcross and his staff at the National Research Council for their hard work and leadership throughout the process. The recent loss of a stabilizing boom on the French Cerise spacecraft due to a debris impact highlights the threat that meteoroids and debris pose to the ISS. Experts working to protect the ISS clearly understand this threat and the effectiveness of various methods to counter it. It is essential for this understanding—including the recognition of where assumptions are unproved, models are uncertain, and protective measures are limited—to be communicated clearly to the upper management of the program. Better information will result in better decisions, and when a multibillion-dollar facility and human lives may be at stake, every effort must be made to ensure that decision makers are armed with the best information available. George Gleghorn, chair

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Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1  1   INTRODUCTION   4      References,   6  2   INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGY   7      Current Program,   7      Analysis and Findings,   14      Recommendations,   16      Reference,   17  3   METEOROID AND DEBRIS ENVIRONMENT MODELS   18      Current Program,   18      Analysis and Findings,   20      Recommendations,   25      References,   25  4   SHIELDING THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION   27      Current Program,   27      Analysis and Findings,   33      Recommendations,   36      References,   37

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Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris  5   REDUCING THE EFFECTS OF DAMAGING IMPACTS   39      Current Program,   39      Analysis and Findings,   42      Recommendations,   44      References,   45  6   COLLISION WARNING AND AVOIDANCE   46      Current Program,   46      Analysis and Findings,   47      Recommendations,   49      References,   50     LIST OF ACRONYMS   51     APPENDIX: STATEMENT OF TASK   53

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Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris List of Tables, Figures, and Boxes TABLE 3-1 Comparison of Orbital Debris Models, 23 FIGURES 1-1 The International Space Station, 5 2-1 The ISS program risk matrix, 8 2-2 The ISS meteoroid and debris AIT chain of command, 10 2-3 The ISS strategy for meteoroid/debris risk mitigation, 11 2-4 The PNP requirement tree, 13 2-5 BUMPER finite element model of the ISS, 14 3-1 Comparison of meteoroid and debris flux in ISS orbit, 20 3-2 Comparison of model flux predictions, 21 3-3 Comparison of model impact velocity predictions, 22 3-4 Data used to create environment models, 24 4-1 Projectile interacting with a spaced shield, 29 4-2 Effectiveness of Whipple bumper derivatives at various impactor velocities, 30 4-3 ISS shield configurations, 32 5-1 MSCSurv baseline predictions of probability of loss, 40 5-2 MSCSurv predictions of probability of loss if oxygen masks are available, 41 BOXES 2-1 Safety Office Top 10 Hazards (August 1996), 9 2-2 What Does a 0.81 PNP Mean?, 12

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