Fracture control / Damage tolerance

Current activities on Fracture Control / Damage Tolerance areas at ESA include:
  • Definition and development of methodologies and requirements for fracture control of spacecraft, launchers and payload structures.
  • Implementation of Fracture Control principles to spacecraft, launchers and payload projects developed by ESA.
  • Support to the continuous development of the state of the art analytical tools utilized for damage tolerance verification.
  • Contractual R&D projects with industry and technology institutes.
  • Studies on probabilistic aspects of fracture mechanics and investigation on stochastic methods for structural reliability estimation.

ESA is continuously involved in the definition and development of state of the art methodologies and tools for fracture control/damage tolerance evaluation of spacecraft structures, launchers and payloads.

The application of fracture control principles for the mitigation of catastrophic and critical hazards is an essential part of the structural verification of spaceflight vehicles, launchers, modules, payloads and ground support equipment. Mechanical failures that may result in loss of life, severe injury or major damage to the hardware must be prevented.
Fracture control test
Fracture control test
For that purpose, damage tolerance principles are applied to ensure that undetected cracks and other defects existing on the structure do not lead to failure within the service life of critical hardware. All structural items whose failure is recognized to result in a catastrophic or critical hazard (e.g. disintegration, loose item, crew impact, loss of critical function, jamming, etc) must be designed and verified according to fracture control principles.
Last update: 15 April 2013

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