Alter Technology, Alén Space and FADA-CATEC win an ESA contract to validate COTS components

May 11, 2021

Alter Technology, in a joint project with Alén Space and with the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (FADA-CATEC), has been awarded a contract from the European Space Agency (ESA). The goal is to carry out a testing campaign to verify if the accelerated use testing method HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Test) is an ideal trial procedure to validate systems, products, or commercial electronics production processes COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) in the aerospace engineering field.

The initiative is led by Alter Technology, a company with more than 30 years of experience in engineering, component testing and equipment for space applications. The Spanish company has joined forces with Alén Space, which technology has been already tested in space, a result of a trajectory of more than 12 years designing and manufacturing small satellites, and with the support of FADA, a non-profit organisation that monitors and manages the Aerospace Technology Advanced Centre (CATEC).

The project includes a testing program of several TOTEM platforms, the software-defined radio (SDR) developed by Alén Space. This way, the HALT effectiveness could be verified to predict the reliability and life cycle of a product developed under the philosophy of non-specialised commercial electronics uses (COTS) and with agile engineering processes.

The serial tests will help to know the limits of the HALT methodology on a product used in satellites (TOTEM) and to analyse its results and estimated reliability with the Failure Modes, Effects, and its Criticality Analysis (FMECA).

As Diego Nodar, Alén Space’s COO, said, “the HALT methodology will contribute to improve and increase the useful life of TOTEM.”

What is the HALT methodology?

The HALT methodology is focused on the design and manufacture of high-performance applications with commercial components. Through the performance of different environmental tests, as the thermal cycling in vacuum or vibrations, the goal is to simulate the life cycle of a product and to determine areas of improvement in its design.

By detecting possible breaking points, with the HALT methodology developing costs can be reduced, in addition to indicating which modifications are necessary in the product to adapt it to the environment in which it will operate (the space, in this case). These tests will serve as an audit for the reliability of the products, as well as to verify its resistance in different environment conditions.