# Is there a space-certification procedure used by commercial spacecraft manufactures for electronic components?

For electronic components at the level of say electrolytic capacitors, ethernet connectors connectors, and possibly in the future fiber optic connectors/electrical signal interfaces are there well established, recognized certifications that commercial spacecraft manufactures would like to see (or require) for individual components?

If for example a component fails after deployment, and someone asks "you did use all 'commercial space capacitors' didn't you?" is there a widely recognized industrial certification of some kind that can be pointed to while saying "yep, all 100% commercial space-grade electronic components!"

The background of this question is this question where I'm asking about small plastic multimode fiber connectors which would contain high speed LED or laser chips and/or photodiodes.

Since these contain a variety of both semiconductor materials and optical materials, would there be a certification process (and roadmap thereof) such that without it, a commercial spacecraft manufacturer would be hesitant to use such a component, even if it was internally validated through exhaustive testing?

There may be military and NASA grades and certifications, but I'm wondering if there are also commercial space specs, or if they just make due with other existing certification procedures.

• Interesting question. NASA definitely has such processes, in some cases even following the supply chain back to the ore certain metals are refined from, but this increases the cost tremendously. I have read that SpaceX has avoided traditional aerospace parts suppliers to keep their costs down. Since all these Newspace companies are kind of on their own, I doubt there is an overriding procedure that covers them all, but it would be interesting to hear for sure. – Organic Marble Dec 7 '16 at 15:54
• – David Hammen Dec 7 '16 at 19:30
• The economics of a cubesat, the constraints on its operations, and the consequences of a its failure are completely different for an expensive deep space probe, which in turn are completely different from a vehicle that flies humans. I suspect that very few, if any, cubesats fly any MIL spec electronics. – David Hammen Dec 7 '16 at 19:37
• @uhoh -- SpaceX didn't; see my answer to the linked question. By way of analogy, consider the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Imagine a four lane (each way) restricted access highway where the posted speed limit is 55 mph. On sunny days with light traffic, you'd be obeying the letter of the law but violating the spirit of the law by driving 50 mph in the fast lane. Everyone is going at least 60 in that lane; you are the hazard on the road. – David Hammen Dec 8 '16 at 5:04
• The "spirit of the law" with spacecraft electronics is that they shouldn't shorten the spacecraft's life should something happen to those electronics. There are lots of ways to attain this goal. Using all MIL spec parts might satisfy a bean counter, but it might well violate the intent. Doing so might make the spacecraft overly expensive, forcing you to forego redundancy or capability. Adroitly choosing where to use MIL spec parts and where not to might give the bean counters the heebie-jeebies, but can do a better job of satisfying the intent. – David Hammen Dec 8 '16 at 5:11

EEE-INST-001 and EEE-INST-002 are the guidelines for COTS parts screened for space service levels 1, 2 and 3. These assume you will perform functional screening to eliminate infant mortality and that you have a good idea of the high reliability service life duration.

I designed, qualified, installed and verified FO on the space station. All electronics were up screened to these levels. We used rad hard glass fiber. POF may not be tolerant of the TID over long durations.

• Interesting answer! Can you add some supporting links to it to make it a more Stack Exchange-friendly answer? Maybe links for the abstract or introduction pages for those EEE-INST standards would work. Also, I and probably many other readers won't know what FO and POF mean, can you spell those out? Thanks, and Welcome to Space! – uhoh Oct 25 '19 at 15:30

There is, kind of. The US Military has a number of standards, called mil specs, which are required for certain components in certain kinds of environments. Among these is IEST-STD-CC1246D, which specifies cleanliness requirements for space hardware, MIL-STD-883 for electronic environmental concerns, and especially MIL-STD-1540D, which is entitled "PRODUCT VERIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR LAUNCH, UPPER STAGE, AND SPACE VEHICLES". No doubt there are others that I am missing as well, but the general idea is the US Military puts out specifications that are used in the commercial world.

• Actually the MIL-STD-1540D document seems to be mostly about how to set up a certification process. This is only the document that tells you how to write the next document! Page 1, Scope: "This document is intended for use in developing the detailed verification requirements for a particular project." I'm asking about a certification of a component. It might list detailed tests and pass/fail results for example. – uhoh Dec 7 '16 at 13:21

In Europe this is covered by the European Space Components Coordination. Among other things, they maintain a list of components that are qualified for use in ESA missions in agreement with standard "ECSS-Q-ST-60, Space Product Assurance - Electrical, Electronic and Electromechanical (EEE) Components".

On the ESCIES website (European Space Components Information Exchange Service) you can find all the relevant specifications. For example, for capacitors.

• +1 this is excellent; exactly what I was looking for. Thank you! – uhoh Oct 30 '19 at 0:57