Balancing Reliability, Radiation Hardness and Affordability for Constellation Space
The space version of Qualified Manufacturers List (QML) is overseen by the Defense Logistics Agency and was established to ensure a 15 to 20 year component service life. QML set the standard for space and non-space high reliability Integrated Circuits (IC), effectively establishing the reliability reference point for use in harsh environments.
The New Challenge in Selecting Space Components
An emerging class of Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations now requires a larger number of satellites to accomplish their mission. With these commercial constellations, “bullet-proof” reliability is not always needed since the time required in space is shorter and the mission assurance requirements are often less stringent. The lower overall cost also enables the launch of replacement satellites to replenish and/or upgrade constellations. Cost is therefore a key factor for constellation space as well as other small satellite missions that are emerging today.
This combination of trends presents a paradigm shift in the satellite market and has become a great challenge for system designers wrestling with the tradeoffs between cost and mission assurance.
Looking at mission duration, you can see in Figure 1 that as mission life increases, more reliability is needed. There is a sizeable gap between heritage high reliability solutions (i.e. QML) and Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) components. The launch of Cobham’s new LeanRELTM product line bridges the gap by offering mission assurance and affordable reliability across our flight heritage proven microprocessors, microcontrollers, memories and interface products.