Power

UK company provides power for ExoMars launch

15th March 2016
Jordan Mulcare

UK power component specialist APC HiRel has worked with British technology company QinetiQ to supply power supply modules for the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter launched on the 14th March 2016. The Lander, a test bed for technologies being used in future space programmes, features VPT SV Series hybrid isolated power supplies and filters, specified for their high reliability and ability to withstand the mission’s radiation levels and harsh operating environment.

VPT DC/DC power supplies were supplied for the UHF transceiver for the Lander and will also be fitted to the Rover for the 2018 mission. It was critical that both power supplies and filters met Class K, the top level of screening and test for hybrids, frequently used for space missions to ensure the very highest level of reliability.

Class K typically requires parts to be 'burned in' for up to 160 hours at elevated temperatures, exposure to shock and vibration tests, and require pre-cap inspections.

Most importantly under the DLA (Defence Logistics Agency) approved radiation plan, MIL PRF 38534 Appendix G, characterization and testing is performed at the critical semiconductor component piece-part level (radiation lot acceptance testing) from traceable semiconductor lots. This marks a fresh alternative from traditional suppliers where radiation testing has to be carried out after assembly.

VPT SV Series power supply modules are one of the first to supply product with DLA radiation component testing, making them more cost and time efficient. The ExoMars programme is a collaboration between the European and Russian Space Agencies. The Orbiter was launched this morning from Kazakhstan on a seven-month mission to monitor temperatures and trace gases on the red planet.

One of its primary goals is to discover the existence and sources of methane on the planet, providing further information about whether life has ever existed on Mars. The Orbiter measures 3.5x2x2m and has 17.5m of solar arrays. The launch mass for the Proton-M/Breeze-M launch vehicle totals 4332kg (including fuel and the Schiaparelli launch vehicle).

A second Rover mission will follow in 2018, also using VPT SV Series DC/DC power supply modules.

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