Defining the critical depth of impact damage for thermal protection systems

Nathaniel L. Skolnik, Zachary R. Putnam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Thermal protection systems for hypersonic vehicles are low- to zero-fault-tolerant. A self-healing capability for thermal protection systems is proposed to mitigate impact damage from micrometeoroids and orbital debris. An integrated self-healing system should be positioned within the thermal protection system at the critical depth, the minimum depth at which impact damage will cause mission failure. A method of calculating the critical depth is presented over mission and vehicle parameters of interest. The maximum allowable size and speed of impacting particles is determined as a function of critical depth. Results indicate that the critical depth is a strong function of the entry environment as well as the damage shape; changes in crater depth and width significantly affect bondline temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624105241
StatePublished - 2018
EventAIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 2018 - Kissimmee, United States
Duration: Jan 8 2018Jan 12 2018

Publication series

NameAIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 2018


OtherAIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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