FIGURE 5-2 Variation of crater size with impactor shape for a thick target. SOURCE: Gehring, 1970.

and other components against all possible debris shapes and compositions (and sizes, masses, or velocities). Instead, analytic and numerical methods can be used to extend a limited set of experimental results to other configurations, shapes, compositions, etc., to identify worst-case conditions that can be used in the design of spacecraft protection systems. If these computer simulations are validated with sufficient experimental data, reasonable confidence could then be assigned to the computed results. This approach could increase the reliability of a given protection system and minimize the possibility of serious over- or under-design.

The inability to launch large impactors at typical LEO collision velocities not only causes the same type of problems described above but also limits the accuracy of breakup models. Currently, masses capable of breaking up even the smallest spacecraft can be launched only to low



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