National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



International Journal of Impact Engineering 38 (2011) 495e503; doi:10.1016/j.ijimpeng.2010.10.021


The results of 18 impact tests performed on Whipple shields were compared to the predicted ballistic limits of the shields in the region where the impact velocity of the threatening particle was high enough to produce melting and incipient vaporization of the particle. Ballistic limit equations developed at NASA Johnson Space Center were used to determine nominal failure thresholds for two configurations of allaluminum Whipple shields. In the tests, 2017-T4 aluminum spheres with diameters ranging from 1.40 to 6.35 mm were used to impact the shields at impact velocities ranging from 6.94 to 9.89 km/s. Two different aluminum alloys were used for the rear walls of a simple Whipple shield. The results of 13 tests using these simple Whipple shields showed they offered better-than-predicted capability as impact velocity increased and that the strength of the rear wall material appeared to have a smaller-thanpredicted effect on the shield performance. The results of five tests using three configurations of a scaled Space Station shield - a plain shield at 0 degrees, two shields with multilayer insulation in the space between the bumper and the rear wall (also at 0 degrees), and two tests with the plain shield at 45 degrees obliquity - showed that these shields met their predicted capabilities.