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  • Examination of satellite collision scenarios spanning low to hypervelocity encounters using semi-empirical models

    Paper number



    Prof. Alessandro Francesconi, Italy, University of Padova - DII/CISAS


    Dr. Lorenzo Olivieri, Italy, CISAS "G. Colombo" - University of Padova


    Dr. Giulia Sarego, Italy, University of Padova, CISAS – “G. Colombo” Center of Studies and Activities for Space


    Dr. Cinzia Giacomuzzo, Italy


    Dr. Andrea Valmorbida, Italy, CISAS – “G. Colombo” Center of Studies and Activities for Space, University of Padova


    Dr. Darren McKnight, United States, Integrity Applications Incorporated (IAI)



    This paper reports a parametric study of the consequence of spacecraft collisions, with focus on satellite damage (sub-catastrophic or catastrophic) and fragment generation at different impact velocities and mass involvement. In particular, the transition from non-hypervelocity to hypervelocity regime is considered (with low velocity being of primary importance for GEO collisions), as well as the influence of structural properties to possibly dissipate impact energy when the two objects’ appendages interact first.
    Nine collision scenarios are examined involving two satellites similar to GEO telecom payloads of different size, i.e. two spacecraft with solid parallelepipedal body, multiple dishes, and deployed solar panel wings. The two satellites are 500 kg and 2000 kg. Three impact velocities are considered (0.1, 1 and 10 km/s) and for each of them three encounter configurations are analysed: (1) body-to-body, (2) body-to-solar-panel with velocity vector pointing on the target centre of mass, and (3) solar-panel-to-solar-panel with velocity vector as in the second case.
    Numerical simulations are performed with a software called Collision Simulation Tool (CST), that is a brand new semi-empirical tool developed in the framework of ESA contract “Numerical simulations for spacecraft catastrophic disruption analysis”, led by CISAS-UniPD with etamax GmbH as subcontractor. CST results are compared with those obtained by the semi-empirical breakup model FAST and the NASA SBM, and are finally used to highlight fragments distributions dependencies on impact velocity, collision configuration, and structural dissipation.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-19,A6,3,8,x52864.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.