Enhanced Softgoods Structures for Spacesuit Micrometeriod/Debris Protective Systems 921258
Based on recently revised space debris environment estimations for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) altitudes, the level of Micrometeoroid/Debris (M/D) protection afforded by the current Shuttle space suit layup may not be sufficient for application to the Space Station Freedom Program. Enhanced M/D protection could be incorporated through the use of a flexible multi-hull Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment (TMG) based on advanced fabric material layups.
A lightweight, flexible TMG design for enhanced space suit M/D protection would potentially consist of an outer layer or “shield” comprised of Orthofabric, multi-layers of aluminized Mylar and a layer of silicone rubber loaded with micron sized particles of tungsten. The second layer or “backup sheet” would be comprised of a layer(s) of a fabric material such as Spectra (UHMWPE). The shield layers would fragment and/or vaporize the M/D projectile while the backup sheet would stop the resultant debris cloud. Preliminary testing of the shield portion of this layup has shown the potential of this concept. Analytical modeling of phenomena of this type is prohibitively complex. Comprehensive testing needs to be performed on representative TMG layups in order to provide further proof-of-concept and empirical data for final material selection and layup design.