Chiara Tran Thi¹, Torsten Kohne¹, Antonella Sgambati¹, Marco Berg¹
1OHB System AG, Bremen
The space environment is a very harsh environment and the electronic devices that shall operate in this environment must perform their functions reliably. The radiation in space can directly affect the operation of electronic devices causing effects such as performance degradation, functional interrupts, transient effects, loss of data or memory integrity and even permanent loss of function as far as permanent damage. Furthermore, the equipment will be stressed mechanically during the launch event, mainly in terms of vibration, shock and extreme thermal cycling.
Therefore, it is imperative that agencies and the industry properly characterize electronic devices before these devices are flown in space.
The use of commercial electronic components and also fully commercial-of-the-shelf (COTS) equipment is increasingly attractive for the space domain. Performance – in the full meaning of the term – of COTS electronic components and devices is highly attractive compared to their Hil-Rel (High Reliability) / Rad-Hard (Radiation-Hardened) equivalents. Sometimes, especially for long term operational equipment like infrastructure facilities on the International Space Station, COTS equipment is mandatory in terms of availability, performance and nevertheless costs.
To qualify COTS equipment for space applications is usually very complex, time-consuming and therefore also very expensive process. But especially for Low-Earth-Orbit applications like the International Space Station (ISS), such a qualification process can be reduced and optimized if some key points are carefully attended.
This presentation describes the process of qualifying a COTS equipment for the utilization onboard the ISS. It focuses on the activities performed for the radiation qualification of a commercial hard disk storage system required as replacement and upgrade of obsolete equipment of a scientific facility of the ISS Columbus Module.
These activities had been conducted as part of a general cost effective approach for qualifying commercial hardware for low-earth-orbit applications.
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The Authors gratefully acknowledge the European Space Agency for funding this project.