1 October 1997 Reentry survivability modeling
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Abstract
Statistical methods for expressing the impact risk posed to space systems in general [and the International Space Station (ISS) in particular] by other resident space objects have been examined. One of the findings of this investigation is that there are legitimate physical modeling reasons for the common statistical expression of the collision risk. A combination of statistical methods and physical modeling is also used to express the impact risk posed by re-entering space systems to objects of interest (e.g., people and property) on Earth. One of the largest uncertainties in the expressing of this risk is the estimation of survivable material which survives reentry to impact Earth's surface. This point was recently demonstrated in dramatic fashion by the impact of an intact expendable launch vehicle (ELV) upper stage near a private residence in the continental United States. Since approximately half of the missions supporting ISS will utilize ELVs, it is appropriate to examine the methods used to estimate the amount and physical characteristics of ELV debris surviving reentry to impact Earth's surface. This paper examines reentry survivability estimation methodology, including the specific methodology used by Caiman Sciences' 'Survive' model. Comparison between empirical results (observations of objects which have been recovered on Earth after surviving reentry) and Survive estimates are presented for selected upper stage or spacecraft components and a Delta launch vehicle second stage.
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Michael L. Fudge, Robert L. Maher, "Reentry survivability modeling", Proc. SPIE 3116, Small Spacecraft, Space Environments, and Instrumentation Technologies, (1 October 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.293341; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.293341
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