Hypervelocity Impact Testing

Hypervelocity Impact Testing

Hypervelocity Gun Lab
Hypervelocity Gun Lab

The White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) Remote Hypervelocity Test Laboratory (RHTL) is an access-controlled hazardous test area capable of simulating Micrometeoroid and Orbital Debris on spacecraft materials and components. This unique NASA facility was designed to safely handle and test hazardous targets, and simulates impacts on shields, spacecraft, satellites, and spacesuits. Four Two-stage Light Gas Guns (2SLGGs) propel single 0.05 mm to 22.2 mm diameter projectiles to velocities in excess of 7.5 km/s.

Technicians remove a potentially hazardous test article from target chamber after hypervelocity impact testing to determine the ballistic limit.

Because of WSTF’s remote location and attention to safety, the RHTL is capable of implementing test programs that propel projectiles at toxic or explosive materials and components such as batteries, aerospace fluids, and pressurized containers in a controlled laboratory environment. Release energies up to 2.3 kg (5 lb) TNT equivalent can be accommodated within the facility’s sealed target chambers.


WSTF Hypervelocity Television Appearances

  • The Learning Channel – Space: The Final Junkyard (March 2001)
  • The History Channel – The Universe – Deep Space Disasters (2008)
  • Discovery Channel Canada & France – Ultimate Impact Part 2 (2004)
  • Public Broadcasting Station – Can We Make it to Mars(01/19/11)
  • National Geographic – Known Universe: Construction Zone (06/09/11)
  • The Science Channel – How Do They Do It? Space (6/23/09)
Page Last Updated: October 24th, 2013
Page Editor: Judy Corbett