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Survivability to Hypervelocity Impacts of Electrodynamic Tape Tethers for Deorbiting Spacecraft in LEO

Francesconi, A. 1, Giacomuzzo, C. 1, Lorenzini, E. C.1
Affiliation data not available1

Document details

Publishing year2013 PublisherESA Publishing typeConference Name of conference6th European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
L. Ouwehand


This paper reports the results of 16 hypervelocity impact experiments on a composite flat electrodynamic tether for LEO spacecraft end-of-life deorbiting. The system is being developed within the EU FP7 BETs program. Impact tests were carried out at CISAS impact facility, with the aim of deriving failure equations that include the impact angle dependence up to grazing incidence. Experiments were realised with 1.5 and 2.3 mm aluminium spheres, at velocities between 3 and 5 km/s and impact angle from 0° to 90° from the tape normal. After a preliminary post-impact inspection of the target, the damage extension on the tape was evaluated using an automatic image processing technique. Ballistic limit equations were developed in the experimental range using a procedure that allows to estimate the uncertainty in the failure predictions starting from the measurement of the damage area. Experiments showed that the impact damage is very close to the projectile size in case of normal impact, while it increases significantly at highly oblique impact angles.