Radiation Hardness Assurance


Electronics Design for Space Applications

Thomas Panhofer1

1 RUAG Space GmbH, Austria



Satellites and their on-board electronics must operate reliably for many years in harsh environments without any possibility for repair. Therefore, it is very important to consider the environmental conditions the electronics is exposed to during the mission, and to implement appropriate failure handling techniques.

Designing robust electronics is not only limited to the circuit design as such, but already starts with the selection of suitable parts, materials and processes that need to be compatible to the operating environment. Apart from mission-specific requirements, the following conditions are always relevant and need particular treatment:

  • Mechanical vibration & shock occurring during launch and deployments
  • Large temperature variation depending on the sun-exposure
  • Radiation environment

As a consequence, the mounting of each individual electrical parts needs to be qualified, as well as all processes that are applied for assembling a board or unit. Extensive analysis and simulations of the circuits are performed before a H/W is built, which is then tested under very harsh conditions to verify the compatibility to the mission. And all of that needs to be accurately documented to guarantee traceability even years after a unit was delivered.

This presentation illustrates the most important influences on the design of space-electronics and gives an overview about how they are handled.