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LTCC Ka-Band Switch Matrix Experiment for On-Orbit Verification
Keywords: space application, microwaves, switch matrix
We have developed a compact, high-performance, mechanically robust microwave switch matrix together with diode drivers, signal oscillators, and power detectors, for satellite applications using the low-temperature co-fired ceramics technology (LTCC). During a one year on-orbit mission aboard a German test satellite, the correct operation and reliability of the entire switch matrix system has to be confirmed. To accomplish remote measurements, a number of ceramic multilayer microwave modules were developed and manufactured using hybrid integration of integrated circuits. Together with digital parts and bias circuitry, the ceramic modules are placed on a polymer substrate that is glued onto a metal carrier board. The system design had to account for power consumption, overall geometrical dimensions, and mechanical robustness, and had to pass a full space qualification. The experimental board has to withstand mechanical stress during the start of the carrier rocket as well as thermal strain during the mission. The qualification procedures at different stages of the project caused adjustments of the system design such as changes of materials and assembly techniques. For instance, the first laboratory version of the switch matrix with lateral dimensions of 56 mm x 56 mm exhibited cracks after the application of mechanical shocks. The primary reasons were two-sided cavities accommodating the microwave switch ICs, and the overall size of the assembly. To avoid such damages or related failures, the dimensions could successfully be reduced to 34 mm x 32 mm. A double-sided assembly of ICs onto the ceramic module enabled the simultaneous achievement of very promising microwave properties and mechanical robustness. Accordingly, subsequent qualification tests revealed no problems. The contribution summarises our technological approach in terms of both electronic and mechanical performance and describes in greater detail the layout and the control of the experiment to be conducted on orbit.
Stefan Humbla, Student
Ilmenau University of Technology
Ilmenau, Thuringia 98684,

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