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Issues in Space Qualification of Fiber Optics Components
Keywords: Fiber Optics, Military, Space
The qualification of fiber optic components for space flight requires effective strategies at three separate levels. From the viewpoint of the space mission the reliable operation of the fiber optic module or system is the requirement. Therefore, the first strategy lies at the system architecture level. This entails evaluating trade-offs between minimizing total component count, minimizing the different types of components used, incorporating redundant components and redundant optical paths, achieving the optical loss budget, and meeting the size and power consumption constraints. The second strategy level lies at the component evaluation level. Trade-offs are required between the number of components to be stressed and evaluated, the stress tests used, the correlation of the stress to reliability in actual use conditions, the use of accelerated life testing, and the allowed time, available budget, and required reliability and confidence level. Under conservative assumptions the number of device-hours of stress test may amount to thousands of device-years. Thus, a third level strategy is required at the manufacturing level. This involves detailed knowledge of the design and manufacturing process, so that possible failure mechanisms can be eliminated in the design, and so that rigorous process controls can assure defect-free assembly and consistent components.
Robert W. Irvin , VP of Optical Products
Clear Align, LLC
Eagleville, PA

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