What is Space Simulation Testing?

Space Simulation Testing replicates the high altitudes and temperatures for items that are used in outer space, satellites, or rockets.  Products that will be used in space or high altitudes must be able to endure combined environments of extreme temperatures and extreme low pressures. 

Space is defined as an altitude more than 100 km (62 miles or 328,000 feet) above sea level.  The pressure at this altitude is roughly 2.4 x 10-04 to 4 x 10-04 mbar (1.8 x 10-04 to 3 x 10-04 torr) [1].  Temperatures can be as cold as -80 °C.  This is a very difficult environment for anything to survive.  That is why Space Simulation Testing is essential! 

Space simulation testing is performed in a specialized Thermal Vacuum Chamber or TVAC.  TVACs are very specialized chambers that have a two-stage vacuum pumping system and a thermal plate.  The vacuum pumping system typically consists of a roughing pump and a turbo molecular pump.  The vacuum pumping system must be capable of achieving vacuums of 1 x 10-04 torr and below.  The thermal plate should be capable of constant or cyclic temperature control from -80 °C to +100 °C. 

DES’s Thermal Vacuum Chamber (TVAC)

Why Perform Space Simulation Testing?

Mission-critical equipment and components that are used in satellites or space systems are very expensive.  They can take years to develop and launch.  It is essential that space equipment is thoroughly tested not just to survive these extreme conditions, but it must also operate properly and be reliable. Failure during launch or operation in space is not an option!  It is devastating and extremely costly.  Satellites can cost over 150 million dollars.  In addition, space simulation testing of components in a TVAC can expose issues before they are integrated into larger systems saving time and overall project cost. 

Why Choose DES for Space Simulation Testing?

DES has the experience and accredited lab to perform validation of mission-critical components during Prototyping, Design Verification, and Qualification phases.  DES’s TVAC can achieve high vacuum levels and apply extreme temperatures simultaneously with high vacuums.  DES can also simulate the severe vibrations and pyroshocks that occur during a launch.

Our Space Simulation Equipment Capabilities Are:

  • High vacuum levels down to 10-7 torr (1,000,000 Feet or 200 miles!)
  • Cyclic or constant temperature control from -100°C to +150°C
  • 16 x 16 inch thermal plate
  • Multiple sealed access ports to allow products to be operational and monitored during testing including power, data, and RF lines
  • View window for visual monitoring
  • Digital vacuum pressure recording
  • Multiple thermocouples for recording thermal plate & product temperatures
  • [1] AFGL Atmospheric Constituent Profiles (0-120km)
Test Performed in DES’s Thermal Vacuum Chamber (TVAC)

Please contact us or call 610.253.6637 to discuss your project with an expert.

What is the Difference Between Thermal Shock and Temperature Cycle Testing?

Our customers often ask, What is the Difference Between Thermal Shock and Temperature Cycle Testing?  Both types of tests expose products to cycles between hot and cold temperatures.  Both tests produce stresses caused by thermal expansion and contraction.  In many cases, components expand and contract differently.  This creates cumulative fatigue damage during each cyclic, which could result in a fatigue failure.

Thermal shock exposes devices to rapid temperature changes greater than 15°C/minute.  Temperature cycle testing uses a transition rate less than 15°C/minute and is usually between 1 to 10°C/minute from our experience. 

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How to Make Your Product More Reliable Through Testing

At DES, we have tested many different kinds of products ranging from medical devices to aerospace products.  We have performed numerous reliability tests and developed numerous accelerated life test plans.  Many times, our customers ask us, “How do we make our products more reliable?”  There are analytical methods and processes that can be used to improve product reliability.  However, the focus of this article will be How To Make Your Product More Reliable Through Testing

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Delserro Engineering Solutions Featured in Assembly Magazine

Assembly Magazine logo

DES president Gary Delserro is featured in an article published in Assembly Magazine on July 9, 2021.  Titled “Accelerated Life Testing,” the article discusses different types of manufacturing life testing and quotes Gary with reference to highly accelerated life testing (HALT):

“Companies have reported savings in the millions after using HALT,” claims Delserro. “The test can accelerate a product’s aging process from actual months into test minutes, and it can help you discover weaknesses in your product during the design stage. Combined vibration, temperature and electrical stress variables, as well as internal fluid pressure, are typically used during HALT to induce failures and uncover fault points. By using combinations of loads, we can uncover design or manufacturing process flaws before they reach your customer.”

The entire article can be found on Assembly’s website

Delserro Engineering Solutions (DES) – Recent Projects (Spring 2021)

Delserro Engineering Solutions logo

Recently, DES has been very busy working on multiple space and aerospace test programs.  We can’t discuss too many details due to the sensitive nature of the products.  Some highlights are:

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What Exactly is MIL-STD 810?

Mil Std 810 Test Procedure for military specification testing

MIL-STD 810 is a Department of Defense Test Method Standard for environmental engineering considerations and laboratory tests.  It is the most popular Military specification used to conduct environmental testing of military products.  It exists so as to ensure that products used for defense-related purposes meet very specific requirements with regard to ruggedness, durability, and performance.  Given the fact that these products may be exposed to harsh or even extreme conditions, their reliability under stress is essential

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HALT Testing: When Should You Perform It?

Highly Accelerated Life Testing, or HALT, is a technique used in the industry to speed up the design and test phases of product development, as well as limit the number of field failures and thus reduce warranty costs incurred by the manufacturer. 

HALT Testing can be a competitive advantage for companies when performed correctly and at the right time. 

The best time to begin HALT testing during the product development process is when prototypes first become available. HALT is designed to expose product flaws and weaknesses, therefore, a successful test will produce areas for product improvement.  A lot of designers and manufacturers tend to wait until the product design is mature.  At that time, further process improvements or design changes become too costly or timely.  Ideally, HALT should be performed while the product is still fluid and moderate changes don’t become setbacks.  This allows product design to move much more rapidly and efficiently, saving the company time and money.  HALT testing can also eliminate the need for further verification if the product has proven reliable at the much more extreme conditions exposed to in HALT. 

Delserro Engineering Solutions, Inc. (DES) has the knowledge and experience to provide HALT testing services for your product.  We offer both standard and customized test solutions depending on your testing needs.  For more information on HASS, HALT or other testing services, contact DES or call 610.253.6637.

Salt Fog or Salt Spray Testing

Salt fog (aka salt atmosphere or salt spray) testing exposes components to a fine salt fog mist that can result in rusting or corrosion of susceptible materials.  Samples to be tested are hung or placed on a rack inside of the salt fog chamber at the orientation that is specified in the applicable test method or otherwise agreed to with the customer.  The orientation during testing is important as unintended corrosion can result if the salt fog is allowed to condense and pool on the sample.  The samples are then exposed to a salt fog of defined salt content.  The salt solution used to provide the salt fog mist is usually a 5 percent by weight NaCl solution with the pH adjusted close to 7.0.  The salt fog condensate rate is monitored during the test to verify that the test requirements are met.

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How to Implement a HASS Program

This article is a general outline on how to implement a HASS program after a successful HALT has been performed and corrective actions have been completed for any weaknesses found during HALT.  For more information about HASS, please read our blog, What is HASS Testing?  For more information about HALT, please read our blogs

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