1 October 1997 Field observations of medium-sized debris from postburnout solid-fuel rocket motors
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Solid-fuel rocket motors are well recognized as a source of numerous small-sized (10 micrometer or less) debris that are ejected at high velocities during the propellant burning process. Medium-sized (1 mm to 10 cm), low velocity versions of these metallic oxide or other combustion chamber debris have also been reported from static ground tests of solid-fuel motors. Field observations of a third component of the debris generated by solid-fuel rocket motor operation are presented in this paper. These are medium-sized debris that are expelled at low velocities through the rocket motor nozzles after the nominal cessation of propellant burning. These post-burnout debris, referred to as chuffing debris, may be a significant component of the orbital debris environment. Radar and optical measurements of these debris have been collected during numerous sub-orbital flight tests conducted over the past several years. The large database of such observations that has now been accumulated indicates that such post-burnout debris are a generic consequence of solid-fuel rocket motor operation. Selected portions of this database are reviewed, and a preliminary model of such medium-sized debris production is presented that is suitable for correlation with existing orbital debris observations and population models.
© (1997) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Marc D. Bernstein and Benny J. Sheeks "Field observations of medium-sized debris from postburnout solid-fuel rocket motors", Proc. SPIE 3116, Small Spacecraft, Space Environments, and Instrumentation Technologies, (1 October 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.293344; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.293344

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