In this blogpost, Radiation Test Solutions discusses how satellites are analyzed and qualified for launch through a series of design considerations and performance testing.
When a device has to function effectively in the unforgiving environment of space, and in order to get there must endure the stresses associated with a rocket launch, it is critical that it has been thoroughly assessed and deemed fit for the mission.
Qualifying satellites for launch requires careful analysis of all their components and systems—a process that can take from months to years, depending on the complexity of the spacecraft and the parameters of its mission. Careful and methodical testing must be performed on everything from the largest of satellites to the smallest of CubeSats.
The Goals of Aerospace Circuit and Component Analysis
The testing of circuits, systems, and satellites in general looks to answer three primary questions:
- Can the satellite survive launch and deployment? If the answer that results from satellite failure analysis is not an unequivocal “Yes, it can survive,” the craft must, of course, be modified to address the deficiencies. And it is important to note that “survive” is used broadly to mean not only that the craft will not be rendered inoperable by the launch or deployment, but that it will not suffer loss of performance.
- Are the satellite’s materials compatible with the space environment? It is critical that the materials used in space missions will not degrade during the mission span to a point that it affects the satellite’s functionality and viability. It is also important that a satellite’s materials do not pose a threat to other systems.
- Can the satellite provide acceptable performance for the full duration of the mission? In many cases, a mission can last 5-10 years or more. So, testing must not only assess a satellite’s viability today, it has to consider whether the systems and materials can survive an extended period in space.
The Importance of Satellite Radiation Analysis
Qualifying satellites for launch and mission success involves a wide range of assessments. One of the most critical is testing the effects of radiation on components of a satellite and finding their radiation tolerance.
It is essential to have radiation tolerant electronics for space missions. But electronics are not the only space system components that can be adversely affected by radiation. Consequently, aerospace materials testing for radiation effects is important as well.
Testing system components to determine how they will be affected by radiation is not something that manufacturers typically can or should do themselves. Ideally, they should take advantage of expert satellite radiation testing services, like those we provide at Radiation Test Solutions.
Confirming that the degree of satellite radiation hardening in the vehicle is sufficient to protect it—or insufficient, as the case may be—throughout its lifespan is essential to the success of space missions. The services we offer—including aerospace radiation effects testing, satellite electrical systems analysis, and aerospace electronics design—give manufacturers and other stakeholders the data they need to determine if and how their space systems will have to be modified to ensure they can complete their mission.
Addressing Single Event Effects with Radiation Effects Testing
Just as important as the services above are, the opportunity to consult with our experts in general can be equally beneficial. In effect, it enables our experts to be an extension of your team.
Thorough satellite radiation analysis in collaboration with a skilled and experienced project partner makes qualifying satellites for launch, and achieving mission success, a much less daunting task.