Optimized RF cable assembly design is critical in space applications. The systems are mechanically and electrically exposed, and the space environment poses unique challenges. Designing a crucial interconnect system that will perform reliably and consistently over long periods of time and withstand the extraordinary environmental and technical conditions of space is nothing like designing just any RF interconnect.

Space Flight Cable Assemblies

RF Assemblies for Commercial Space Applications

A Guide to RF in Space

Equipment used to power space technology must also be lightweight, small, reliable, and resistant to high-shock and vibration, radiation, and harsh/extreme temperatures. RF coaxial cable assemblies must be designed to perform reliably in the smallest possible footprint. The equipment must also function continuously without hands-on maintenance.

Ground Systems and Testing for Space

Improvements and new technologies introduce challenges for the unique coaxial cable and connector solutions used in spaceflight testing.

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Space Launch

The backbone of any space program is the launch vehicle. Cables used for space launches need to withstand severe conditions at the lightest possible weight.

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Space Orbits

There are three main types of orbit in space: Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), and Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO).

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Deep Space

Deep space flight is when satellites or other equipment are outside of Earth’s orbit.

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There is a need for more data transmission volume and the ability to handle the next generation of launch vehicles.

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LEO Satellites

As the exploration of space increases, availability of cable assemblies fit for low earth orbit (LEO) applications becomes an increasing concern.

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Cables, connectors, assemblies, and other RF solutions are integral components of spacecraft systems. Inside these crafts, room for equipment is extremely limited. Minimizing the size and weight of cables and assemblies are key, as they need to take up the smallest footprint possible. The high-frequency cables required for space applications have a shorter range, so to operate spacecraft require a dense network of antennas. Lightweight cables and assemblies are ideal for high-density connections, especially for intricate installations in tight spaces. Minimizing space between cables and connectors is necessary for interconnect systems to survive high vibration and other harsh environmental conditions.

High shock and vibration, extreme temperatures, and intense radiation are all common environmental and technical conditions of space applications; space rated RF cables and assemblies must withstand these extraordinary conditions reliably and consistently over long periods. Tight phase control is crucial for optimized system performance. The ultimate challenge for interconnect design engineers is finding flexible dielectric materials that meet the physical requirements and can also be phase stable across a broad temperature range.

Selecting RF Cable Assemblies for Space Applications

The selection of appropriate coaxial cables for space applications depends on phase stability, return loss, materials, cable performance, and many other factors. Maintaining cable performance once an assembly is installed is crucial for the function of a satellite. Some important factors to consider when selecting coaxial cables for space related applications include:

Factors to Consider for a Space Qualified RF Cable Supplier

For space qualified microwave cables and connectors, choosing a supplier for space cables and space grade connectors is a critically important decision. Some suppliers offer standard qualifications and documentation for basic products in hopes of simplifying this process. Designing a crucial interconnect system that will perform well and withstand the extraordinary environmental and technical conditions of space, reliably and consistently over long periods of time, is not like designing just any RF interconnect system. The conditions encountered in space are unique and require special, highly customized solutions to prevent failure.





Radiation Resistant