Dynamic fracture at hypervelocity impact conditions was investigated in different materials using short pulsed laser induced shock waves. All stages of damage evolution were identified for one dimensional or spherical shock wave impact geometry. A new experimental method is presented to estimate the shock pressure decay in materials. In the theoretical section we obtain the damage induced in the target, as follows: The shock wave is modeled by an expanding stress front, which creates micro-damage in the laser impacted layer and extrudes a bulge at the far surface. The calculated bulge geometry compares well with that observed by us for metal-adhesive-metal sandwiches. The micro-defects coalesce into macro- damage or fracture by a mechanism which is described by percolation theory.