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Vulnerability of spacecraft electronics boxes to hypervelocity impacts

: Putzar, R.; Schäfer, F.; Stokes, H.; Chant, R.; Lambert, M.

International Astronautical Federation:
56th International Astronautical Congress. Vol.4
International Astronautical Congress <56, 2005, Fukuoka>
Fraunhofer EMI ()

To investigate the vulnerability of spacecraft (S/C) equipment to space debris and meteoroid impacts, hypervelocity impact (HVI) tests have been performed on electronic equipment. The electronics were placed inside aluminium casing located behind representative spacecraft structure walls and operated at simulated conditions (i. e. counting and read / write memory access). The impact tests were performed as part of an ongoing European Space Agency contract. Twenty six hypervelocity impact tests at 0° and 45° incidence have been performed on the electronics boxes with impact velocities ranging from 3.3 km/s to 7.7 km/s. Projectiles have been 99.9% pure aluminium spheres with diameters ranging from 1.5 mm to 5.5 mm. Several failure modes have been investigated. The impact experiments showed that in order to produce permanent errors or destruction of the electronics inside the aluminium casing, impact conditions have to be such that the electronics casing was perforated wit h a minimum extension of 1.4 mm, leading to the ejection of projectile and casing material inside the electronics box and subsequently inducing damage on the PCB. The electronics system consists of a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and random access memory on a printed circuit board. The FPGA is programmed to perform simple operations: counting and read / write memory access. The electronics boxes are tested in six configurations: three configurations behind an aluminium honeycomb (H/C) sandwich panel (SP), and three configurations behind multi-layer insulation (MLI). The different set-ups vary in spacing between the electronics boxes and the H/C SP or MLI respectively. All tests are performed while the electronics are in operation, i. e. the FPGA is operating. During HVI, signals have been monitored to determine the type and severity of the perturbation induced on the equipment's operation.