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New International Space Station modules will receive basalt body armor

Protection from "space debris" in Near-Earth orbit

The new Russian modules of the International Space Station (ISS) will receive a screen made of basalt and body armor fabric.

Technogenic pollution of near-earth space is a significant negative factor affecting the quality of spacecraft operation. In a collision with the so-called “space debris” spacecraft can fail. Today, the greatest danger is large-sized space debris, which include non-functioning vehicles, upper stages of rockets, upper stages. Mutual collisions of such large objects can lead to the appearance of new smaller debris.

The task of ensuring the safe operation of the orbital station in the conditions of increasing pollution of near-earth space has become particularly relevant in the development of the International Space Station (ISS). At the initial stage of construction of the ISS, a difference in the approaches of the main partners of the project (NASA and RSC Energia) to safety related to the impact of space debris was revealed.

The ISS screen protection modules have the value of the probability of non-breakdown (GNP) of the containment of the module for the design operation time of its.

The specialists of RSC Energia and “TSNIIMash” were tasked to develop solutions to strengthen the protection of the Small Research Module (SRM1), the Node module (NM) and the Scientific and Energy Module (SEM), which was carried out within the framework of the development of the hull structures of these modules in accordance with the requirements of the GNP defined in the ISS RS Specification SSP41163.

Basalt Today. Configuration of the Russian segment of The International Space Station
Basalt Today. Configuration of the Russian segment of The International Space Station

One of the problematic issues was the search for domestic woven materials for the intermediate screen, providing the required shockproof characteristics. The basalt and body armor fabrics that made up the structure of the intermediate screen were not inferior in properties to Nextel and Kevlar fabrics used in the screen protection of NASA modules.

In defense of SRM1 and NM used basalt fabric TBK-5-76, and for SEM used BT-13N-43 (100). Now the existing ISS modules protect screens made of Nextel and Kevlar materials., since historically in the creation of protection for the first module of the station-Functional Cargo Unit (FCU) “dawn” actively participated NASA specialists, with financial support from the American side. Almost the same protection received and Multifunctional Laboratory Module (MLM-U), which was originally built as a stand-in FGB, but was then converted into an independent compartment.

Basal Today.  The Small Research Module (SRM1) and the Node module (NM) of The International Space Station
Basal Today. The Small Research Module (SRM1) and the Node module (NM) of The International Space Station.
Basalt Today. The Scientific and Energy Module (SEM) of The International Space Station
Basalt Today. The Scientific and Energy Module (SEM) of The International Space Station

Research into the capabilities of basalt fiber composite materials began not so long ago, but they quickly proved superior to many materials with high ballistic characteristics. And protective screens made of a combination of basalt and more traditional aramid fibers, the developers are convinced, will make the ISS modules almost invulnerable to “space debris”.

The launch of SRM1 and its entry into the ISS is planned in mid-2020. SEM and NM are due to travel to the station in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

Companies: NASA

Countries: Russia

Industries: Aerospace, Energy

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