An impact model was developed to predict how three specific foam types would damage the Space Shuttle Orbiter insulating tiles. The inputs needed for the model are the foam type, the foam mass, the foam impact velocity, the foam impact incident angle, the type being impacted, and whether the tile is new or aged (has flown at least one mission). The model will determine if the foam impact will cause damage to the tile. If it can cause damage, the model will output the damage cavity dimensions (length, depth, entry angle, exit angle, and sidewall angles).

It makes the calculations as soon as the inputs are entered (<1 second). The model allows for the rapid calculation of numerous scenarios in a short time. The model was developed from engineering principles coupled with significant impact testing (over 800 foam impact tests). This model is applicable to masses ranging from 0.0002 up to 0.4 pound (0.09 up to 181 g).

A prior tool performed a similar function, but was limited to the assessment of a small range of masses and did not have the large test database for verification. In addition, the prior model did not provide outputs of the cavity damage length, entry angle, exit angle, or sidewall angles.

This work was done by Michael Koharchik, Lindsay Murphy, and Paul Parker of The Boeing Company for Johnson Space Center. MSC-24913-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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