Chapter 66. Assessment of Hypervelocity Impact Damage of the Space Shuttle Windows

  1. Ersan Ustundag and
  2. Gary Fischman
  1. J. E. Ritter1,
  2. K. Jakus1 and
  3. J. Lankford Jr.2

Published Online: 26 MAR 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470294567.ch66

23rd Annual Conference on Composites, Advanced Ceramics, Materials, and Structures : A: Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings, Volume 20, Issue 3

23rd Annual Conference on Composites, Advanced Ceramics, Materials, and Structures : A: Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings, Volume 20, Issue 3

How to Cite

Ritter, J. E., Jakus, K. and Lankford, J. (1999) Assessment of Hypervelocity Impact Damage of the Space Shuttle Windows, in 23rd Annual Conference on Composites, Advanced Ceramics, Materials, and Structures : A: Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings, Volume 20, Issue 3 (eds E. Ustundag and G. Fischman), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, USA. doi: 10.1002/9780470294567.ch66

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 10003

  2. 2

    Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX 78228

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 MAR 2008
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1999

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470375631

Online ISBN: 9780470294567

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Keywords:

  • emanating;
  • hypervelocity;
  • characterized;
  • degradation;
  • catastrophic

Summary

The outer, fused silica windows on the Space Shuttle are subjected to hypervelocity impacts by microscopic space debris. These impacts produce relatively shallow pits surrounded by an ensemble of microcracks. These cracks include partial ring cracks on the surface, cone cracks and asymmetric lateral cracks below the surface, and small radial cracks emanating from the bottom of the pit. In this research the hypervelocity impact damage on the windows is carefully characterized, the corresponding fracture strength of the windows is measured, and post-strength fractography is carried out on the windows to determine the likely strength determining defect. Based on these observations, the possibility of a fracture mechanics based model for the strength degradation due to hypervelocity impacts is discussed.