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Outgassing of space materials, screening tests for COTS components proposed for space applications.

Alejandro Herrera Hernández



Materials and components used for the manufacture of the spacecraft systems, must be able to withstand the damaging environmental conditions of space during their operation, in the specific mission for which they are designed. Outgassing, physical phenomenon known as the gradual release of volatile molecular compounds from a material or surface, due to the exposure to the extreme vacuum of the outer space environment, and accelerated with temperature increase, can lead to the damage and degradation of spacecraft component and instrument performance, endangering the mission success.

Therefore, materials outgassing must be tested and evaluated during the material processing design and selection steps of the space project, with systematic application of screening and space simulation tests based on validated methods, including bake out operations under vacuum, to eliminate or reduce the potential outgassing and molecular contamination in orbit or during the mission, below the acceptance limits applicable for the spacecraft systems reliability.

The aim of this presentation, is to provide a general overview of the outgassing effect, screening test method performed for different type of COTS and associated material, test equipment, outgassing test data and evaluation, in the frame of ESA -ECSS product assurance requirements for space applications.