National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Ballistic Impact Laboratory



Damage caused by impacting debris and foreign objects is an issue in many different aerospace applications. The various rigs in this facility are used to study study the dynamics of high-speed projectiles and their impact on targets to develop advanced materials and structures that are impact resistant, lighter, and stronger. Failure and deformation characteristics of both structures and materials are evaluated under ballistic impact loading conditions.


  • Several single-stage gas guns ranging in size from 1mm to 16 in. diameter (40 ft. long)
  • Extensive instrumentation, data acquisition and high-speed camera that can capture 2.5 million images per second, quantitative photo instrumentation equipment.
  • Can achieve impact velocities as high as 3000 ft./sec
  • Several tests per day possible, depending on the difficulty of fixturing, when using the smaller guns

Research Projects

  • Space Shuttle/Return to Flight: Assessment of impact damage threat of various debris on orbiter windows, external tank structure, and leading edge, and validation of impact models
  • Aeronautics/Aviation Safety/Aging Aircraft and Durability: Assessing impact resistance of aged composite fan containment materials and structure
  • Aeronautics/Fundamental Aeronautics/Supersonics and subsonic Fixed Wing: Development of lightweight and multifunctional fan containment structures

Potential Uses

  • Assessment and understanding of impact damage for future space structures and launch vehicle components
  • Development of lightweight and multifunctional fan containment materials and structures for gas turbine engines
  • Development and validation of impact damage models

Point of Contact: Mike Pereira, 216-433-6738