The Air Force Space Test Program (STP) needed to supply a complex product which contained several experiments for the International Space Station. Because the components were to be used on the outside of space station itself, components involved needed to be able to function while being bombarded with particles, floating above Earth in outer space.
Epec was experienced with high reliability projects of this type, having been involved with aerospace projects since 1969, when Epec circuit boards were used in the Apollo 11 mission. Working closely with two other companies, Epec produced quality rigid circuit boards to be used for this challenge.
Epec worked together with an engineering consulting company and another manufacturing company to understand the specific challenges of the project and to assemble the printed circuit boards needed. Material selection, construction and coating specifications were just a few of the items addressed. Because the PCBs would be functioning in the vacuum of space, Epec and collaborators had to carefully consider what copper weight would work best to ensure adequate heat dissipation.
Printed Circuit Board for International Space Station (ISS)
Once the consulting company completed the initial layout, Epec performed a DFM to make sure the bare board component would be acceptable. Software design and component selection was accomplished by the consulting company and total assembly completed by the partner manufacturing company.
The flight PCB assembled was installed in a chassis and underwent stringent vibration and temperature testing, along with many days of operating in a thermal-vacuum test chamber. After the battery of tests, the unit was deemed fit for service and delivered to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle, Endeavor. The design also allowed for the component to carry a message, a time capsule from the students of Northeast High School of St. Petersburg.
The unit is currently functioning flawlessly high above Earth, and Epec is part of the team working on the next generation project which will once again travel to the International Space Station.