This Is What Space Debris Can Do To Kevlar Shielding

The hole that you are looking at is the "exit wound" from an aluminum bullet — 0.3 inches in diameter — fired at Kevlar-Nextel fabric that shields the European Space Agency's ATV freighter, which ferries supplies to the International Space Station.

The test, which simulated the upper end of the size of debris that the shield is designed to cope with, was carried out at the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics in Brühl, Germamy, using a high-performance light-gas gun that shot the bullet at 16,000 mph.


The shielding, which protects the ATV and some of the space station modules, is a blanket of multilayered insulation stronger than steel. Although it was unable to stop the aluminum projectile, it sufficiently dissipated the energy of the simulated debris so that it merely scorched the thin aluminum wall (photo below), which in real life would be the inner pressure shell of the ATV.

[Via ESA]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter