Trade-Offs in Mass and Effectiveness in Satellite Shielding: A Design Approach
Final rept. 24 May-31 Dec 1991
PHILLIPS LAB KIRTLAND AFB NM
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The optimal design for a debris shield for a spacecraft is discussed. A shield 3-ft thick would provide excellent protection, but would be prohibitively expensive to deploy. Conversely, using no shield at all would be highly economical, but would provide poor protection from impacts. Somewhere between these two extremes is a shielding design that combines effectiveness with practicality. A rationale for determining this optimal configuration is outlined. Consider the case for which the thickness of a shield determines its mass and its debris-stopping effectiveness. A shield is considered to have failed when its ballistic limit is exceeded, that is, when it is penetrated. Using this criterion, along with existing models of the orbital debris environment, computer simulations can determine the probability that a given shield will be penetrated by debris over a 1-yr time span. This probability can be expressed as a function of the shield thickness. The shield thickness corresponding to the maximum acceptable probability of failure is the optimum thickness. This report outlines an experimental plan for applying this rationale.
- Electromagnetic Shielding