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Space qualification of satellite instrument components

Instrument (parts) space flight testing

To space-qualify is to take a product, process, or material and test it in order to prove that it will withstand the environment of space flight. This process can include the following tests and processes:

  • parts screening
  • thermal test
  • vacuum test
  • vibration test
  • material analysis

A flight qualification can include a test in the actual desired environment.

Space qualification domains

Instruments or equipment that are used onboard satellites usually undergo a process of space qualification, which is done in different domains:

  • Mechanical qualification:
    Vibration testing to see if the equipment can survive the vibrations during a rocket launch, or the shock when a satellite is released from its carrier.
  • Thermal qualification:
    In vacuum conditions to see if the equipment can survive in harsh cold and/or warm conditions in space.
  • Electro-magnetic qualification:
    To see if an equipment does not electro-magnetically disturb other equipment onboard the spacecraft, or, reversely, is not disturbed by any other neighbouring equipment.
  • Lifetime qualification:
    Tests to check if an equipment will remain operational throughout the projected duration of a mission, or, for mechanisms, will perform a sufficient number of operational cycles.
RF (radio frequency) generator board used in the SOIR mission.