Over four years ago, at the initiative of the late Gordon Fagg, we identified a capability gap in the European space market for a qualified HV connector and cable assembly (HVCA) and set about talking with the European Space Agency (ESA) about the necessary steps to design, develop and qualify such an assembly.
HVCA and HV power conditioners are a key element of many communication satellites and are required for spacecraft electric propulsion systems as well as for many scientific missions and as such reliability is extremely important. In order to guarantee high quality and reliable parts to space components customers ESA standards recommend selecting components from its Qualified Products List (QPL) and currently there is no ESA qualified HV cable, no ESA qualified HV connectors and no qualified HVCA on this list. This current unavailability of non- dependable, qualified and easy-to-handle HVCA’s means significant restrictions in new system design.
In September we finally signed a two year Contract with ESA to undertake a series of work packages in two definitive phases, evaluation and qualification, which when satisfactorily completed will enable a range of HVCA’s to be qualified to ESA’s very demanding standards and to be placed on the ESA QPL, permitting this product range to be designed in for all future ESA missions.
We already have an array of commercial parts which are to be considered to form the subject of the Characterization Tests, amongst them the 1807 multi-pole (commonality shared across connector family including 1804, 1407, 1405 and 1205) and also the 300-Series single pin (commonality shared across connector family including 30-Series, 31-Series, 310-Series and 311-Series), the Hi-Mate single pin for D-Sub (commonality shared across Hi-Mate in circular connector), the Pee-Wee single pin, the JR single pin and the 600-Series single pin are all possible candidates.
Work Package (WP) 1 covers this product selection and definition. The objective is to identify our HVCA most similar by capabilities such as weight, voltage rating and current handling capabilities and to design into this HVCA the capability to withstand all the environmental issues associated to space travel.
WP 2, which starts in Q2 2015, covers the evaluation and testing of the selected products. The objective of WP2 is to demonstrate that TR UK has the capability of repeatable, controlled manufacture of robust product in accordance with ESA directives and offers a true measure of the HVCA capability to match the Customer requirement through characterisation tests.
WP 3 covers the Qualification testing where TR UK have to deliver a robust, high reliability HVCA to effectively demonstrate that all considerations laid down by ESA have been rolled into the support and processes required for manufacture of the HVCA. The Contract finishes with final acceptance and reports in December 2016.
This Contract has been a long time coming but now complements the chosen strategic direction of expanding and moving the Teledyne Reynolds product range into the complementary Space market which will hopefully provide long term business for the future.