Skip to Content

Orbital Debris Program Office

Orbital Debris Protection

Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) spacecraft
Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) Spacecraft

Orbital debris protection involves conducting hypervelocity impact measurements to assess the risk presented by orbital debris to operating spacecraft and developing new materials and new designs to provide better protection from the environment with less weight penalty. The data from this work provides the link between the environment defined by the models and the risk presented by that environment to operating spacecraft and provides recommendations on design and operations procedures to reduce the risk as required. These data also help in the analysis and interpretation of impact features on returned spacecraft surfaces. The primary facility for this research is the Hypervelocity Impact Technology Facility (HIT-F) at NASA JSC in Houston, although there are other facilities at JSC, New Mexico, and various DoD laboratories.

HIT-F Light-Gas Gun
Light-Gas gun at the Hypervelocity Impact Technology Facility launches projectiles at velocities high enough to simulate orbital debris impacts.