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Analysis and Test Programs


The HVIT follows a few basic steps in the analysis of hypervelocity impact test data. Generally, the analysis process consists of running a series of HVI experiments (a test program), collecting and analyzing the damage data produced, and developing models (ballistic limit equations) which functionally predict damage for a particular shield configuration, given a set of impacting parameters. These equations serve as an input to the spacecraft threat assessment model (called Bumper), which will yield the overall risk which meteoroids and orbital debris pose to a spacecraft. This "risk" is expressed in "probabilities of impact", and "probabilities of (critical) failure". These last metrics are the fundamental objective which falls out of HVI research.

Case Studies

At the HVIT, testing, analysis, design, and other services have been performed on a variety of manned and unmanned spacecraft. The following case studies provide some insight into the capabilities of the HVIT.



An important part of the Spapce Station is its Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), the robotic arm that will be used to perform various tasks on the ISS. The HVIT looked at the effects of meteoroid and debris impacts to the arm itself and its electrical cables.

shuttle image


Mission support for the shuttle program has been a primary focus at the HVIT. Significant effort has gone towards prediction and mitigation of on-orbit impact risk.

EMU image


The familiar Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) are used for spacewalks by shuttle astronauts and will also be used during the construction of the International Space Station.

Mars Trans Hab Image


JSC is currently evaluating the feasibility of a manned mission to Mars, and the HVIT has conducted hypervelocity impact experiments to assess the response of the Mars Module Shield (MMS) concepts.

Stardust image


Stardust is an interplanetary probe that will be used to collect cometary particulates from the comet 81P/Wild-2 while passing within 100 km (62 miles) of its nucleus head in early 2004.

x38 image


The X-38 is the X-series name given to the prototype ISS Crew Return Vehicle (CRV). The HVIT has performed numerous hypervelocity experiments using X-38 materials which have helped generate complete threat assessments for the spacecraft.