explosives were environmental
hazards, making cleanup costly and
“We recognized early in the
program that we need to seek out
alternative test methods in order to
reduce our hazardous work exposure, minimize environmental waste,
and develop a controlled and repeatable test capability,” Pilcher says.
“The same concept can be used
for a variety of defense and space
applications,” Sandia Mechanical
Engineer Bo Song says. “This provides a new path for pyroshock testing, but very clean and more controllable and will save a lot of costs.”
Testing components and systems
to ensure they will withstand the
rigors of space, include shock and
vibration during launch and potentially decades in orbit amid damaging radiation. This is no small feat –
particularly while keeping pace with
the fast-moving satellite sector.
“The satellite communications
industry is undergoing rapid
changes and growth,” says Darren
McCarthy, aerospace & defense
technical marketing manager at test
house Rohde & Schwarz America
in Beaverton, Ore. “The evolution of
satellite technology and support for
NewSpace innovations are driven
by the numerous commercial ven-
tures in space and near space. It is
forcing the satellite communications
industry to break from traditional
test and measurement methods and
take a new look at commercial test
practices to meet demand.”
Technology transfer trends
extend to test and measurement.
“A forcing function in the satellite
communications industry in the
development of waveform technol-
ogy and antenna beam steering is
very synergistic to developments
necessary to support commercial 5G
technology,” McCarthy says. In sup-
porting NewSpace applications for
fast data communications, consider
the radio-frequency (RF) perfor-
mance — phase noise, bandwidth,
level flatness, and dynamic range as
measured by the error-vector-magni-
tude (EVM) performance — and ease
of use of test equipment, he advises.
Speed of test and reduced uncer-
tainty are influencing test and
measurement equipment selection.
“Speed of test has always been a big
driver in satellite communications
and, with the increased volume and
focus on reduced cost of test, this is
still a focus of payload test custom-
ers,” McCarthy explains.
“Measuring spurious emissions,
especially on the launch vehi-
cle, is very time consuming using
traditional spectrum analyzers.
Emission limits can be as low as
-140 decibel-milliwatts (dBm) across
many gigahertz of bandwidth to
avoid sensitive receiver bands. This
is not only for the test and evalua-
tion phase of the payload, but also
during EMI qualification,” McCarthy
says. “Due to the MIL-STD 461G
explicit introduction of time-do-
main scan test methodology as an
accepted technique, in one space
vehicle test case, this enabled sev-
eral weeks of testing to be con-
densed into a few hours.” Í
East Aurora, N. Y.
Hauppauge, N. Y.
Seal Beach, Calif.
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Marvin Test Solutions
Rohde & Schwarz
National City, Calif.
Vishay Precision Group
The Tektronix RSA7100A wideband signal
analyzer provides real-time spectrum analysis.