One of the main functions of the HyperVelocity Impact Technology is the development of advanced shielding concepts to protect spacecraft on orbit. Much of our shield development activities have been in support of the International Space Station (ISS), which will be covered with meteoroid and orbital debris shields.
The HVIT has been responsible for developing many of the advanced shielding concepts that will be used on the ISS. The goal is always to develop a shield that is effective, while being lightweight. Spacecraft shield designers must work carefully to produce shielding solutions which are within the allocated mass, volume, and cost budgets of the spacecraft.
This Monolithic Shield is the brute force approach and does not win any points for ingenuity. It's simply a slab of aluminum capable of absorbing the entire force of an impact.
This shielding method is mostly relevant as a comparison to equivalent mass advanced shields. Also, the monolithic shield can be used to represent the "default shielding" (a simple aluminum wall) against meteoroid and debris impacts.
The Whipple Shield is the first spacecraft shield ever implemented. It was introduced by Fred Whipple back in the 1940s, and is still in use today. Simply, it consists of placing a sacrificial bumper, usually aluminum, in front of the spacecraft, thus allowing it to absorb the initial impact.
The Whipple bumper shocks the projectile and creates a debris cloud containing smaller, less lethal, bumper and projectile fragments. The full force of the debris cloud is diluted over a larger area on the spacecraft rearwall.
The Stuffed Whipple Shield is a variation of the simple Whipple Shield. Layers of Nextel and Kevlar are inserted in between the bumper and rearwall. These additional layers further shock and pulverize the debris cloud such that any fragments reaching the rearwall are benign.
The Multi-Shock Shield is a popular shielding desgin. It consists of staggering layers of Nextel at specified standoff distances. The multiple layers of Nextel repeatibly shock the projectile and debris cloud until the remainig fragments are too harmless to breach the rearwall.
Mesh Double Bumper
The Mesh Double Bumper Shield consists of a double layer bumper of aluminum mesh, followed by an aluminum rearwall.
Many spacecraft are designed using Aluminum honeycomb sandwich panel structures. The panels are tested and evaluated for their MMOD shielding capabilities.
Metallic foam sandwich panels provide stuctural support similar to honeycomb panels, but have improved MMOD shielding capabilities. Metallic foam panels are being tested and evaluated for future spacecraft designs.
The Mars Module Shield is a prototype shield developed for a future manned mission to Mars. The shield consists of layers of Mylar, Nextel, Kevlar, and foam. The foam is cored out inside in order to reduce mass. The foam design is used because it is desired that the shielding be compressible for launch.