Investigating Amorphous Metal Composite Architectures as Spacecraft Shielding


  • This work was supported by the Strategic University Research Partnership at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Graduate student support was provided by the Office of Naval Research under grant no. N00014-07-1-1115, the Education Office of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, and NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate under contract number NNH10ZTT001N. The authors thank the staff of the NASA Ames Vertical Gun Range for their technical support of this effort, especially D. Holt and C. Cornelison. The authors also thank Eric Christiansen of NASA's Johnson Space Center for supplying the ballistic limit equations program and comments. Supporting Information is available from the Wiley Online Library or from the author.


The threat of micro-meteoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) collisions with spacecraft and satellites has been increasing with the increasing worldwide use of low earth orbit. Providing low-areal-density shielding for the mitigation of these high velocity impacts is essential for ensuring successful and cost effective missions. Here, we report results obtained from hypervelocity impact testing on bulk metallic glass (BMG) matrix composites. Their carbide-like hardness, low melting temperatures, ultra-high strength-to-weight ratio and the ability to be processed like polymers are material attributes ideally suited for spacecraft shielding, particularly as an outer wall bumper shield.