Manned Space Flight Electronics Testing
Few areas of electronics testing require the rigorous capabilities verification that is required for mission-critical manned space flight electronic hardware. I was asked by Frontier Electronic Systems of Stillwater, OK to develop test programs and a suite of automated test instrumentation to perform testing on circuit boards that would control the battery systems on capsules used to transport Astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Frontier’s customer had developed a complex set of test requirements around which a complete test system was designed. The test system not only verified complete functionality of the circuit board’s electronics, but also included a complex thermal cycling routine, all of which were automated, requiring very little operator interaction once the testing was commenced. The thermal testing routine monitored the circuit board’s power consumption and functional operation, and notified the operator and any other interested parties by email or text message as to the testing’s progress, or when a problem in the testing was detected.
The resulting system not only fulfilled the customer’s test requirements, but went several steps further by eliminated the need to have a test technician present to control the thermal chamber and monitor the system during the lengthy thermal testing period.