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Improved representation of destructive spacecraft re-entry from analysis of high enthalpy wind tunnel tests of spacecraft and equipment

Beck, James and Holbrough, Ian and Schleutker, Thorn and Gülhan, Ali (2019) Improved representation of destructive spacecraft re-entry from analysis of high enthalpy wind tunnel tests of spacecraft and equipment. Acta Astronautica, 164, pp. 287-296. Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2019.07.033. ISSN 0094-5765.

[img] PDF - Postprint version (accepted manuscript)

Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576519312056


The assessment of casualty risk in destructive re-entry has historically been performed purely by simulation using heating correlations, which only have verification on basic shapes, and estimated phenomenology for fragmentation. As the application of space debris mitigation requirements is expected to result in a higher number of re-entries, this has brought a stricter enforcement of the casualty risk guidelines to proposed missions. In turn, this has increased the interest in designing spacecraft to demise in re-entry in order to allow uncontrolled re-entries to be performed. Initial testing of spacecraft materials and basic structures has demonstrated that the destructive re-entry tools do not capture the correct physics to be able to assist design in a meaningful way, and therefore, some means to improve the representativeness of the tools is required. The current understanding of the phenomenology of the fragmentation and demise processes is limited. As a consequence, it is vital to perform appropriate tests in order to improve the capability of the tools to assist the design process. To this end, a set of destructive tests on spacecraft materials, structures and components has been performed in an arc-heated supersonic wind tunnel. These tests include the first destructive wind tunnel tests ever performed on a complete nano-satellite and a reaction wheel. From these tests, it has been determined that the failure of aluminium structures is highly dependent upon the behaviour of the protective metal oxide layer, and that this can be catastrophic in nature. The tests on the nano-satellite have shown that the structure can be supported by stainless steel spacers between the electronics cards, and that glass fibre reinforced plastic PCBs are more resistant to melting than had been anticipated. The reaction wheel test has shown that the connections between parts are critical to the fragmentation and demise processes, as the glued housing separates quickly, well before melt temperature is reached at the joint. It has also demonstrated the importance of radiative cooling, as the flywheel and ball-bearing unit have survived a test at over 800 kW/m² with little damage.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/128941/
Document Type:Article
Title:Improved representation of destructive spacecraft re-entry from analysis of high enthalpy wind tunnel tests of spacecraft and equipment
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Schleutker, ThornUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-1833-2850UNSPECIFIED
Date:November 2019
Journal or Publication Title:Acta Astronautica
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 287-296
Keywords:ReDSHIFT, design for demise, space debris, clean space, aerothermal testing, aerothermodynamics, plasma wind tunnel
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space System Technology
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R SY - Space System Technology
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Project Space Debris (old)
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute for Aerodynamics and Flow Technology > Supersonic and Hypersonic Technology
Deposited By: Schleutker, Thorn
Deposited On:02 Sep 2019 10:43
Last Modified:20 Jun 2021 15:52

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