A spacecraft is a vehicle that is designed to travel in conditions outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Spacecrafts may be launched to observe the Earth, for communication purposes, to explore possibilities in the future or for research in various fields.
It can take anything between 4 and 10 years to develop a spacecraft from its basics and proper testing at every stage is one of the steps that can be taken to avoid costly errors failures or at later stages.
Preflight tests and preparations are thus crucial to the successful launch of any spacecraft. Tests must be reliable and effective in order to be of use to the project.
Initially, every mechanical or electrical component used must be tested at the manufacturer’s end in order to qualify the same. In the next stage, the component must also be tested along with other components of the spacecraft with which it may be interfaced. At later stages, the whole assembly is tested before installation in the spacecraft to see if it works as it would at launch and after.
The units must be tested under the conditions that they will experience after their launch. For this purpose, similar mechanical as well as thermal conditions must be provided. Some of the tests performed are discussed below.
The effects of vibration must be tested so as to know how it will perform during the launch conditions. The vibrations at the test must be more severe than the actual conditions that the spacecraft may encounter. These tests determine the soundness of the mechanical design. It is also subjected to sound vibrations to a higher degree that it is made to encounter at the spacecraft launch.
Similarly, it is critical to know if the products and their units can survive extreme conditions of temperature, humidity, pressure, vibrations and sound during its storage as well as operation. The operation of the equipment under extreme environments as well as the consequences of any failures and faults are observed.
The aim is to discover any manufacturing defects or potential problems that may have escaped the notice of the quality analysis team. The design is checked for any defect, radiation, short circuits, breaks or leaks under stressful conditions. Communication between components as well as with the ground station is checked for accuracy.
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