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Protoflight Model Development for Spaceborne LTCC RF-Modules
Keywords: LTCC RF-Modules, Spaceborne Applications, Qualification and Reliability
A specific RF-module technology is currently under development in a national research project named KERAMIS-2 funded by the German Space Agency (DLR). Typical microwave circuits like synthesizer, amplifier, switch, mixer or filter are build up on multilayer LTCC substrate within a hermetic dense housing. Optimized first and second level interconnects allow on the one hand the integration of standard MMICs into such packages and on the other hand those RF-modules can easily be mounted on suitable RF-boards. This technology was optimized for satellite communication applications at frequencies around 20 GHz. The advantage is that low-cost, flexible and modular Tx/Rx-circuit design becomes possible even for harsh environments. This technology is aimed for verification in space on a LEO exploration satellite with launch in early 2010. The project partners are implementing the flight-hardware following the protoflight model philosophy for ESA spaceborne equipment. The development started with the design and characterization of two different technology models (TM-1 and TM-2) followed by the structural and thermal model (STM) continued with the engineering model (EM) and finally resulting in the protoflight model (PFM). TM-1, TM-2 and STM have already passed qualification tests successfully. The qualification included different vibration and shock tests as well as functional tests under thermal cycling and vacuum conditions. The EM is currently in the design phase and will pass additional tests like radiation and EMC. This paper will discuss the entire qualification procedure for this specific technology, which is a composition of different board materials like PTFE, LTCC, Kovar-housing, flipchip and wire-bond assembly and transitions, heat dissipation measures, MMICs and SMD components. This hybrid setup will be explained and test results will be presented to verify the reliability of the technology even at microwave frequencies and for spaceborne applications.
Reinhard Kulke, Head of Unit
IMST GmbH
Kamp-Lintfort, NRW 47475,
Germany


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