Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Kira Jorgensen Abercromby

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Collisions with orbital debris present risks to spacecraft and astronauts. Orbital debris is capable of generating hypervelocity impacts, which can generate system threatening damage. In order to protect assets a means of defending against these types of impacts must be developed. In order to evaluate these methods prior to launch, ground based testing systems must also be developed.Cal Poly’s Electromagnetic Railgun program began in 2011 with the idea of creating a system capable generating hypervelocity impacts in a laboratory setting. Due to a loss of efficiency due to arcing in the barrel and a lack of side supports capable of withstanding fires at maximum voltages the system is not currently capable of accelerating projectiles to the design velocity of 3.5 km/s. Work is undertaken to correct reduce arcing in the barrel and develop side supports capable of withstanding maximum loading. Investigations were taken to evaluate if 4226 Super Corona Dope is an effective insulator to reduce arcing in a railgun barrel. Additional work was done to design, fabricate, and test primary structural support members for the railgun barrel. 4226 Super Corona Dope was tested as an insulator, both by itself and in conjunction with polyimide tape. An insulation method using 4226 Super Corona Dope and polyimide tape was used for tests at 5 and 7kV, producing results that outperformed simulations. Best testing results outperformed current models. The redesigned structural members warped during a dry fire, leading to the development of a new loading condition to be used during all future analysis. New designs are proposed. The original and newly proposed designs are analyzed under both load cases. Overall system improvements are suggested