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28 February 2006 Qualification and issues with space flight laser systems and components
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The art of flight quality solid-state laser development is still relatively young, and much is still unknown regarding the best procedures, components, and packaging required for achieving the maximum possible lifetime and reliability when deployed in the harsh space environment. One of the most important issues is the limited and unstable supply of quality, high power diode arrays with significant technological heritage and market lifetime. Since Spectra Diode Labs Inc. ended their involvement in the pulsed array business in the late 1990's, there has been a flurry of activity from other manufacturers, but little effort focused on flight quality production. This forces NASA, inevitably, to examine the use of commercial parts to enable space flight laser designs. System-level issues such as power cycling, operational derating, duty cycle, and contamination risks to other laser components are some of the more significant unknown, if unquantifiable, parameters that directly effect transmitter reliability. Designs and processes can be formulated for the system and the components (including thorough modeling) to mitigate risk based on the known failures modes as well as lessons learned that GSFC has collected over the past ten years of space flight operation of lasers. In addition, knowledge of the potential failure modes related to the system and the components themselves can allow the qualification testing to be done in an efficient yet, effective manner. Careful test plan development coupled with physics of failure knowledge will enable cost effect qualification of commercial technology. Presented here will be lessons learned from space flight experience, brief synopsis of known potential failure modes, mitigation techniques, and options for testing from the system level to the component level.
© (2006) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Melanie N. Ott, D. Barry Coyle, John S. Canham, and Henning W. Leidecker Jr. "Qualification and issues with space flight laser systems and components", Proc. SPIE 6100, Solid State Lasers XV: Technology and Devices, 61001V (28 February 2006);


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