First-Order Simulation of Strewn Debris Fields Accompanying Exoatmospheric Re-Entry Vehicle Fragmentation by Hypervelocity Impact


  1. Frank, G.W.
Corporate Authors
Operational Research and Analysis, Ottawa ONT (CAN) Directorate of Air Operational Research
This report documents a computer-based model to simulate the strewn debris field resulting from exoatmospheric ballistic missile interception by a hypervelocity kinetic kill vehicle. The model supports a suite of simulations developed to augment policy or strategic studies by capturing the basic physics of missile defence. The model is intended to serve as a ‘first order’ approximation, describing physical processes at a level of detail sufficient to describe strewn field formation qualitatively. This report is a technical document of the physics underlying fragmentation and dispersion, and is intended for analysts working with or expanding the package. The fragmentation of ballistic missile re-entry vehicles is modeled using available information from satellite on-orbit and laboratory collisions. Atmospheric fragment re-entry is modelled using an exponentially dense ablative atmosphere model derived from meteor physics. Strewn field distributions are inferred through impact points across a range of fragment masses. Follow-on analysis packages compute and display mean and cumulative fragment densities accompanying multiple intercept scenarios. While this study does not address specific scenarios, several trends have emerged: interceptions may occur at altitudes of hundreds of kilometers, several hundred seconds before scheduled Re-Entry Vehicle impact. Such interceptions are often characterized by debris fields measuring several hundreds of kilometers across. It was found

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Report Number
ORA-DAOR-RN-94-005 — Research Note
Date of publication
01 Sep 1994
Number of Pages
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