Interconnect Technology for Manned Space Flight

Glenair QwikConnect Magazine • January 2021 • Volume 25 • Number 1


for Manned Space Flight

Behind-the-scenes at Glenair GSS, Salem GER PLUS an in-depth look at space radiation

Glenair: The Most Trusted Name in Manned Space Connectors and Cables

G lenair’s history of interconnect innovation for manned space applications began with our design and fabrication role in the realization of the golden umbilical life-support cable used by Commander Ed White in the first American Gemini Program space walk in 1965. This was a complex cable assembly with an exacting set of performance requirements. Even though this application is now over 50 years old, it still reflects Glenair’s unique skill set as both a manufacturer of high-performance connectors and wire protection products as well as a provider

Commander Ed White’s “Golden Umbilical” cable—and the numerous Titan II / Gemini launch cables manufactured by Glenair’s cable division in Southern California—were essential to America’s early manned space program.


MANNED SPACE APPLICATIONS • The “Golden Umbilical” life-support cable • Titan II space launch vehicles • Space Shuttle orbiter • International Space Station • X-38 experimental spacecraft

of turnkey assemblies incorporating Glenair signature interconnect technology. Complex interconnect cable assemblies made by Glenair have traveled to and from orbit dozens of times on the Space Shuttle, and we were also responsible for producing the

long-length umbilical cables used on the Titan II launch vehicle for all twelve Gemini missions. For this application, Glenair developed some truly unique fabrication fixtures and processes to complete this unique cable build.

< Gemini VIII launch, Titan II launch vehicle with umbilical cables in view on launch tower.

© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021


50+ Years of Crewed-Flight Interconnect Design History


A Select History of Glenair Connectors and Backshells in Manned Space Flight Applications

Glass-Sealed Hermetics for the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle Glenair supplied specialized glass-sealed hermetic connectors to The X-38 program, an experimental autonomous spacecraft designed and built for the purposes of shuttling space crew back to Earth in an orbital emergency. Glenair has been an essential go-to supplier and design partner for hermetically-sealed connectors on space flight programs since the 1980s. Glenair discrete interconnect designs and technologies have been a part of manned space flight for these past 50+ years. And, as mentioned, we have demonstrated capability in-house to integrate our many unique and signature interconnect technologies into turnkey systems and assemblies. In each of the following examples, Glenair performed exactly in this manner, acting not merely as a supplier, but as an application engineering and design partner to these landmark programs.

The X-38 Crew Return Vehicle

< Hermetic sealing available in circular and rectangular packages

QwikClamp ® Backshells for the International Space Station The Glenair QwikClamp ® backshell was purpose-designed for use on the ISS. Select parts were gold plated for resistance to atomic oxygen corrosion and radiation damage, others were supplied in our “M” code electroless nickel plating.

All designs were equipped with a unique strain relief clamp that eliminated sharp surfaces and angles to prevent potential damage to astronaut life support space suits and gloves. Here is astronaut Thomas D. Jones in 2001 during STS-98 out on an EVA. The cable assemblies in the shot are all equipped with these unique Glenair backshells.

< Astronaut Thomas D. Jones, mission specialist, works on the International Space Station during STS-98 in this 2001 file photo.

Space-grade Qwik-Clamp backshells designed for the International Space Station

Sav-Con ® Connector Savers for the Space Shuttle orbiter Glenair Sav-Con ® connector savers have been on every major manned space program—from Gemini to the Space Shuttle. One of the most dramatic applications of this space- grade connector go-between was on the Space Shuttle orbiter where they provided protection for the umbilical connectors from liftoff to touchdown on every mission.

Glenair Sav-Con ® Connector Savers

Launch of a Space Shuttle orbiter Vehicle from the Kennedy Space Center

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Photo History of Manned Space Flight

Source: NASA


Mercury A camera aboard the “Friendship 7” Mercury spacecraft photographed Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. on Feb. 26, 1962, during the Mercury-Atlas 6 spaceflight. Glenn was using a photometer to view the setting sun.

Gemini On June 3, 1965 Edward H. White II became the first American to step outside his spacecraft and let go, effectively setting himself adrift in the zero gravity of space. For 23 minutes White floated and maneuvered himself around the Gemini spacecraft. White was attached to the spacecraft by a 25 foot umbilical line and a 23-ft. tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand White carries a Hand Held Self Maneuvering Unit (HHSMU) which is used to move about the weightless environment of space. The visor of his helmet is gold-plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.


Apollo Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the moon near the leg of the lunar module Eagle during the Apollo 11 mission. Mission commander Neil Armstrong took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin explored the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins remained with the command and service modules in lunar orbit.



Skylab Scientist-astronaut Owen K. Garriott, Skylab 3 science pilot, is seen performing an extravehicular activity at the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) of the Skylab space station cluster in Earth orbit. Garriott had just deployed the Skylab Particle Collection S149 Experiment from its mount on one of the ATM solar panels. The purpose of the experiment was to collect material from interplanetary dust particles on prepared surfaces to study their impact phenomena. Earlier during the EVA Garriott assisted astronaut Jack R. Lousma, Skylab 3 pilot, in deploying the twin pole solar shield.

© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021





Space Shuttle The crew of STS-61A poses for their traditional in- flight portrait. Eight ESA and NASA astronauts (the current record) flew the Space Shuttle Challenger, carrying the NASA/ESA Spacelab module into orbit with 76 scientific experiments on board. The Space Shuttle Orbiter carried crews to and from Low Earth Orbit on 133 successful missions between 1981 and 2011. International Space Station ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts (left), flight engineer; along with NASA astronauts Leland Melvin and Daniel Tani, mission specialists, are pictured here working in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. For over 22 years, astronauts, cosmonauts, and space tourists from 19 different nations have visited the space station, conducting research in astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology, and physics, and testing the spacecraft systems and equipment required for future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX Crew-1 From left, Mission Specialist Shannon Walker, Pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon Commander Michael Hopkins—all NASA astronauts—and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut and Mission Specialist Soichi Noguchi are seated in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. The NASA SpaceX Crew-1 mission lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on November 15, 2021, and successfully docked at the International Space Station on November 17 where they begin a six-month stay.


and beyond…


Orion Spacesuit engineers demonstrate how four crew members would be arranged for launch inside the Orion spacecraft, using a mockup of the vehicle at Johnson Space Center. Orion (officially Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or Orion MPCV) is a class of partially reusable space capsules to be used in NASA’s human spaceflight programs.

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Impacts of Space Radiation on Interconnect Wire Harnessing

Low Earth Orbits are increasingly being utilized by satellite networks geared for principal delivery of internet content on a

worldwide basis. Low Earth Orbit, or LEO, happens to be relatively free from charged solar particles as it sits below the inner and outer Van Allen belts. Ionizing radiation remains an important factor however, and polar LEO orbits do cross charged particle areas at every pass. One of the questions we get asked quite frequently at Glenair is whether or not a particular interconnect technology is resistant to space

radiation. The answer to this question of course depends on the particulars and specifications of each individual application, as the physics of radiation in space— for example as it pertains to satellites in low earth orbit versus those subject to radiation effects in deep interplanetary space—are significantly different. In general, radiation that hits a spacecraft comes from either of two sources. The first is the sun, and if we understand its direct and indirect effects we will have mastered 99% of the subject at hand. However there is a small percentage of space missions that cannot rely solely on the sun as its source of energy. Such satellites often carry a small nuclear reactor called a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) which converts heat from a nuclear decay process into electricity. Generators of this type do emit some radiation, but that’s not the focus of the vast majority of the applications we see, which are almost exclusively focused on solar radiation.

The sun is a major source of electromagnetic radiation impacting satellites in low earth orbit. Direct impacts from solar flares and solar wind dominate the radiation environment experienced by LEO satellites.

Alpha (α) radiation consists of a fast-moving helium-4 nucleus, and is stopped by a sheet of paper. Beta (β) radiation, consisting of electrons, is halted by an aluminum plate. Gamma (γ) radiation, consisting of energetic photons, is gradually absorbed as it penetrates dense material. Neutron (n) radiation consists of free neutrons, blocked by light elements such as hydrogen, which slow and/or capture them. Galactic cosmic rays (not shown) consist of energetic charged nuclei such as protons, helium nuclei, and high-charged nuclei called HZE ions.


© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021


The main emissions from the sun are electromagnetic radiation and a flow of charged particles called the solar wind. These particles carry both positive and negative charges, and collectively form what’s called a plasma. Think of it as a diluted gas, but it can behave very differently because the particles are charged. The impact on a satellite and its onboard equipment may be a direct result of exposure to solar wind. However, it is important to understand that this radiation has indirect consequences on a spacecraft a well. For instance, residual oxygen from our atmosphere is ionized by solar radiation and impacts the outside materials of a space craft in LEO through chemical interactions. One way to parse the direct emissions from the sun is to focus on particle charge. This distinction is useful because charged particles interact strongly with matter and can be absorbed quickly (depending on their energy, or speed). The absorption will add a unit of charge to the material and may may trigger secondary emissions which must sometimes be taken into account. Neutral particles and electromagnetic waves can still cause molecular or atomic changes in materials, but they can penetrate deeper into solid materials. Neutrons, for instance, will mostly interact with the nucleus of an atom, which is tiny, dense, and surrounded by a void. Electromagnetic particles (also called photons) must be parsed into bins of different energies. The higher the energy of a photon, the shorter its wavelength and the deeper it penetrates. This is easy to remember when you think of X-rays and UV light. X-Rays can penetrate through our bodies because they have much shorter wavelengths than UV rays. That’s why in the illustration on the left you see some of the wiggles making it through the blue block of material and others not. The ones going deeper have a shorter wavelength. For the purpose of our conversation, the important aspect is how far do the particles penetrate, and how much potential damage will occur over time. The most common effect of electromagnetic radiation (or photon impact) is the Compton effect. High energy photons (UV, X-ray, Gamma-ray) can interact with an electron orbiting an atomic nucleus, and provide it with a boost of energy sufficient to liberate it from its atomic confinement. What remains is an atom with a positive charge and a free electron. The Compton effect impacts the tenuous regions of

This NASA illustration shows that the Low Earth Orbits are relatively well protected below the inner and the outer belts, while GPS satellites and Geosynchronous orbits are on the rims of the outer belts.

American physicist Arthur Compton (1892 – 1962) won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the Compton Effect, which demonstrated the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation.

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Solar array power degradation due to displacement damage High-energy protons

Solar array arc from surface charging Low-energy electrons

Materials degradation Photons, ions, atoms

Microelectronics, bit flips, latch-ups High-energy protons and ions

Discharge from internal charge accumulation High-energy electrons

Electromagnetic pulse from vehicle discharge Low-energy electrons

Total dose effects High-energy particles

Information source: Air Force Research Laboratory

earth’s atmosphere in a similar manner. The charged ions and free electrons create a layer of conductive gas (plasma) in our upper atmosphere, called the ionosphere. LEO satellites at altitudes between 100 and 300 kilometers are in that zone. For these satellites, it’s important to consider the exact orbit and their orientation with respect to the sun in order to truly assess the potential impact of charged particles on their surfaces. For example, higher concentrations of charged particles are present in the Van Allen belts closest to earth’s magnetic poles, while lower concentrations exist in equatorial regions. This has a very practical impact on orbit the trajectories of LEO satellites, as they are relatively safe from charged particles except and if their orbits traverse the Van Allen belts. Avoiding long transits through dense belts is an important consideration when engineers select the optimal orbit of a satellite. Sometimes there is no choice, a geosynchronous satellite above Central America will necessarily feel the impact of the outer belt and will have to be designed accordingly. Material degradation due to radiation In terms of what damage particles can do, scientists employ a unit of measurement called the Rad, which measures how much energy was deposited by radiation into a unit of mass. It is the preferred unit when evaluating a material (how many Rads can it handle before degrading), or when comparing orbits, or calculating the lifespan of a spacecraft. Laboratories use electron beams and gamma rays from Cobalt 60 to simulate radiation exposure, again measured in Rads. In some materials (optical fibers, semiconductors, dielectric insulators) it is also important to understand how fast the radiation is implanted into the matter. In these cases, we use either the Fluence (power per surface area—important for solar cells for instance), or the flux (particle count per unit time into an angle area). We will consider the impacts starting from the outermost layers of the spacecraft. The most prevalent particle for those areas are low energy electrons. Low energy means they don’t have enough speed to penetrate deep into the structures. When they get absorbed, they add a unit of negative charge to the material they collided with. If it’s a metallic (or conductive) material, the additional charge is free to move around and will change the voltage balance of the spacecraft with its

This picture illustrates some of the impact ionizing radiation and low- energy charged particles can have on a satellite.

Materials under test to determine potential damage from absorbed radiation, such as silicone-based microelectronics, are exposed to radiation doses measured in “Rads”. Doses in excess of 100 mRads can result in material hardening and embrittlement, making them unsuitable for use in satellite applications.

© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021



environment ever so slightly. If the charge hits an insulating material, it will not be free to move around, and that insulator will build up charge with every electron that hits it in this area. When charges have nowhere to go, they accumulate, and before long, a voltage builds up and may be discharged, typically with an arc to a nearby conductor at a lower voltage. For this reason the outermost layer of a spacecraft needs to be conductive, or at least able to ‘bleed’ off charge fast enough so as to prevent a voltage build-up. This is particularly important for wires, since their outermost layer is non-conductive and they are often in close proximity to grounded metallic structures. Aluminum foil shields are a popular means to prevent electrons from building up charge on wire insulation. It is important to make sure that those foils are grounded to the spacecraft structure. You may wonder, what happens if a spacecraft keeps accumulating electrons? Does that impact the electrical networks on board? How does one control the voltage when charge keeps accumulating on a ground structure? The answer is that unlike on earth, Satellites do not have an absolute ground. If we could tie a wire between earth ground and a satellite, we might measure a huge voltage difference. But since nothing on the spacecraft is tied to earth ground, the electronics ‘don’t know’ that they are operating with a different zero volt reference than their cousins on earth. Think of it like the tide of an ocean; when boats float in the open waters, they don’t feel the tides, and as long as they don’t come close to shore, the height of the tide does not matter. When two spacecraft come in contact however, they do need to level out their ground structures in order to avoid an un-controlled discharge. The surface of the spacecraft is also where most of the electromagnetic radiation hits. Most organic molecules suffer long-term damage from this radiation. They become brittle, shrink, and lose adhesion. In electrical systems, this can impact impedance. As mentioned earlier, in low earth orbit we also have a large amount of ionized oxygen, ready to oxidize and add resistance to certain metallic surfaces like aluminum. For this reason, gold is the preferred choice for surface coverings. It is very resistant to corrosion, reflects a broad spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, is immune to absorbed radiation, and is an extremely good conductor. At NASA, the tongue-in-cheek answer to the question, “why is everything plated with gold on your satellites?” is, “because we didn’t have enough budget to use solid gold!”

Satellite plating with gold is used when insulation alone is inadequate to protect the satellite from radiation from heat, light, and impact. Gold is effective in reflecting radiation away from the satellite, is a good heat and electrical conductor, and does not react to atomic oxygen.


Acceptable Dose (Mrad)

Bipolar Power Transistors MOSFET Transistors (on SiC) Schottky Diodes (on SiC)

0.2 Mrad 1 Mrad 1 1 Mrad 1 100 Mrad 2 400 Mrad 3 10 Mrad 2 1 Mrad 4 0.1 Mrad 2

Epoxy Resin

Kapton (polyimide)

Kynar (PVDF)—mild damage

Silicone rubber

A table of acceptable radiation levels for a few popular materials used on spacecraft. Small semiconductor components will certainly have an additional aluminum shield around them.

Teflon (FEP)

Epoxy-Glass Laminates 10 Mrad 2 Acceptable radiation doses for typical materials used in electronics. Measurements were performed

using 60 Co Gamma radiation. 1 Steffens RADECS 2017 2 Hanks NASA-CR-1781, 1971

3 Golliher NASA/TM-2001-210245 4 NASA Langley SP-8053, June 1970

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Interconnect Design for Radiation- Induced EMI/RFI Interference In the previous arcticle, we discussed how radiation—in the event it penetrates into satellite materials—can cause embrittlement and other forms of degradation, potentially impacting the mechanical, physical, and even electrical (impedance) properties of mission-critical equipment including electrical wire interconnect systems. Now, let’s turn to a second key issue of radiation in space: managing the surface charge build-up of electrons that can lead to EMI noise and signal degradation in electronic systems. As with mitigation efforts to reduce penetration damage from alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, design disciplines for EMI noise mitigation include laminate shielding of wiring, conducting unwanted interference to ground, and the use of filtering technologies at box I/O interfaces to attenuate high-frequency interference. The many benefits of good shielding Traditional interconnect and wire harnessing products have a strong design emphasis on electromagnetic shielding to prevent unwanted interferences. This can of course be the case on spacecraft as well, many electronic systems must interact and not interfere with each other while fulfilling their missions. In addition, the metallic shields on spacecraft will protect the layers below from radiation. They will further bleed off unwanted charge accumulations on various areas of the craft. Finally, in the event of a discharge, they provide a safe place for the current to go.

Space-grade materials and plating choices for EMI/RFI mitigation As mentioned in the previous article, the most abundant element in Low Earth Orbit is atomic oxygen, which is in a highly reactive state and can produce serious corrosion of surfaces through oxidation. Critical electrical junctions must therefore be protected from corrosion with surface platings, typically either electroless nickel or gold in order to maintain the ground path and shielding characteristics necessary in the management of EMI. Glenair plating codes M and Z2 are appropriate for all aluminum shell connectors. The XM plating code is for Glenair composite thermoplastic connectors and backshell accessories. Plating code GME is reserved for ESCC-compliant backshells only. All of these plating codes are qualified for use in LEO applications. Space-Grade Finish Options Finish Code Description Specification M Electroless Nickel SAE-AMS-26074 Class 3 XM Electroless Nickel (Composite Only) SAE-AMS-26074 Class 3 Z2 Gold Plated ASTM B488 GME Gold over Electroless Nickel ESCC No. 3401 087 Para. 4.4.1

Ground plane connectors reduce both electrical equipment emissions and susceptibility to EMI The use of a conductive metallic ground plane as a packaging option for shielded contacts and optical fiber links can effectively reduce the size of the penetration in the equipment enclosure Faraday cage. Metallic ground planes in connectors are typically made of aluminum, and the thickness is on par with the wall strength of the connector shell itself. Ground planes are always grounded to chassis.

© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021



Filtered EMI connectors effectively shield individual contacts / circuits For discrete signal connector applications, an EMI filter package may be incorporated into the insert stack. This will in effect put a fine ground-mesh around every contact and prevent certain EMI events from disturbing the circuits in the box. The filter value should be selected so as to allow the desired signals that pass through, but block unwanted higher frequencies. The ceramic materials used in Glenair filtered connectors can be exposed to high doses of radiation without adverse effects. Transient Voltage Suppression (TVS)-equipped connectors prevent voltage spikes from discharge events from damaging delicate circuits inside electronic boxes. A correctly designed TVS diode can take millions of discharge events without damage. This is important because in space, discharge events may happen at regular and frequent intervals.

Aluminum wrapping versus braided shielding Electrical cables exterior to the sealed/protected zone of a satellite need to be shielded—typically with wrapped foils or conductive braid materials—to extend the protective Faraday cage that is routinely established for electronic boxes and enclosures to interconnecting wires and cables. Elimination of apertures or gaps in braided wire shielding is critical, especially for high-frequency (short wavelength) EMI. In addition, the termination of wire shielding at the connector interface must be accomplished with good ground connections. As conductive adhesives on foil are notoriously bad,

such materials should not be relied on for effective EMI/RFI shielding for critical systems in space flight applications.

Flexible braided shielding (left) is far less likely to develop gaps and apertures that can lead to entry/exit points for electromagnetic interference as compared to foil-wrapped assemblies

Ground fingers and springs on connectors enhance shielding effectiveness, reduce shell-to-shell resistance, and improve ground path The use of robust connector ground springs and/or fingers can markedly reduce connector shell-to-shell resistance, and improve the ground path to eliminate surface conducted EMI. An EMI spring can be located on a plug or receptacle. Many types and approaches are employed, from simple dimpling on shells, such as found on inexpensive D-subminiature connectors (mystifyingly still specified in many satellite applications), to more sophisticated recessed springs in high-performance circulars. Ground fingers such as are used on the gold-plated D-Sub in the picture are particularly effective for critical space-flight applications.

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Glenair has been making interconnect and wire harness shielding products since the dawn of manned space flight. At GSS, we have created a vertically-integrated space-grade component manufacturing, harness assembly, test, and integration operation. In building interconnect solutions for space—as opposed to other disciplines—we follow different rules of engagement. Every crimp joint, for example, is photographed. Every shield junction measured and recorded. Every electromechanical HDRM is 3D optical profilometer-inspected. Nothing is left to chance, everything is documented. These practices extend into every area of the operation, from our space-grade harness assembly group to our mechanical integration team, electromechanical device fabrication shop, and EGSE test rack and cable division. ESA/NASA IPC-certified staff provide value-added Engineering Base and 3D SolidWorks design, prototyping, and clean-room harness assembly. ISO 5 flow chamber (certified to ESD Standard 61340-5-1), with ample accommodation for large mock-up and integration projects. Premier Space-Flight Interconnect Component and Harness Manufacturing BEHIND-THE-SCENES AT GLENAIR GSS

Clean Room assembly with both environmental filtering and electrostatic discharge protection.

ESA and NASA IPC- Certified Wire Harness Assembly and Integration:  Glenair has produced thousands of ground and space-flight shielded interconnect harness assemblies. Our GSS facility is optimized to serve both the European and NA markets with unique flight-ready systems and integrated assemblies that combine Glenair’s unique range of high-performance interconnect components with our ESA/NASA IPC- certified harness assembly and clean-room integration capabilities.


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Glenair Space Systems GSS is an ESA/NASA IPC-certified interconnect wire harness assembly operation. Point-to-point and complex multibranch wire cable assemblies are produced to exact customer mechanical, thermal, electrical and radiation requirements and may be integrated on-site to both satellite mockups and space-flight systems in our 300 m 2 ISO 8 and ISO 6 clean rooms. A turnkey cable harness design and fabrication operation, Glenair Space Systems professionally manages projects from (1) engineering and documentation, to (2) wire harness prototype, to (3) mission simulation and test, to (4) clean-room integration.

 

Harness integration into space payload electromechanical devices

Complex integration and assembly of flight-grade wire harnesses

EMI shielded and open-wire bundle assemblies ready for flight

Backshells and Harness Shielding


Single and dual entry

Composite split shell

Ultra- lightweight microfilament tubular shielding

Side-entry shielding

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Turnkey Electronic Ground Support Equipment (EGSE) Racks and Power / Data Test Cables

Turnkey fabrication of Electronic Ground Support Equipment (EGSE) test racks and cables is a unique capability of GSS—built to exact customer specifications and satellite test requirements, The extent of GSS support for ground simulation testing is absolutely unique in our industry and includes sourcing and construction of all necessary equipment and fabrication of required test cables and simulation harnesses.

Glenair Space Systems Group in Salem, Germany, specializes in the construction of electronic test equipment, cables, and turnkey electronic ground support racks for satellites, simulation programming, and test. GSS assembly staff are ESA/NASA IPC-certified and can engineer and produce ground support equipment ranging from test harnesses and power / data distribution cables, to fully integrated test racks complete with interface / simulation programming. Signature ground support test racks and cable assemblies have been built for satellite programs including ExoMars, EML, EarthCare, BepiColumbo, Sentinel I, Sentinel II, Sentinel VI Jason, and others.

GROUND Support


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Examples of GSS-made EGSE racks and cables for satellite test/mission simulation

On-site test harness- to-satellite integration

Example of ground support flat set harnessing used in developmental stages of satellite modeling, mockup, test, and mission simulation. Glenair Space Systems manages the entire process, from test cable design and fabrication to mockup integration.

EGSE rack systems and interface simulation programming IAW customer requirements

ESA/NASA IPC-certified assembly staff perform all EGSE rack and cable assembly—from harness design and fabrication, to integration on prototype systems and mockups.

Hand assembly work performed by ESA/NASA IPC-certified assembly staff

Form, fit, and function of prototype harnesses using GSS-produced fixtures

Cleanroom integration of shielded harnesses into satellite test racks

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BEHIND-THE-SCENES AT GLENAIR GSS Space-Grade Electromechanical Device Manufacturing and Test

GSS-manufactured hold-down and release mechanisms (HDRM) as well as customer-bespoke electromechanical devices are manufactured in-house in our fully-integrated precision machining and metal fabrication center. All devices are clean-room assembled and inspected in a 3D optical profilometer.

HDRM housings precision- machined in-house with tolerances to 1 micron

GSS designs production and customer- bespoke space mechanisms:  GSS is pleased to offer both our European and North American customers access to our innovative design, engineering, and machining capabilities for space-grade interconnect and electromechanical technologies including hold-down release mechanisms. Glenair Space Systems, Salem is equipped with a fully-integrated machining operation with capabilities to produce both highly miniaturized as well as larger form-factor components and structures. Our GSS-manufactured HDRMs with clean-room assembled actuators are a perfect example of this rare capability found only at Glenair.

HDRMs Space Mechanisms

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Hold down release mechanismsare used to secure and deploy satellites and satellite appendages including solar arrays, reflector antenna, booms, and masts. Historically, release devices of this type have included explosive release nuts, bolt cutters, separation nuts, as well as wire and pyro cable cutters. Glenair non-explosive HDRMs employ a fusible wire-actuated nut technology that solves many of the problems associated with explosive hold down and release devices, including easy on-site refurbishment after test. Certain designs are now manufactured by Glenair Space Systems in Salem, Germany. Glenair US-manufactured non-pyrotechnic and customer- refurbishable medium-duty HDRMs and pin pullers can ship to most customers worldwide without an export license, although light- and heavy-duty HDRMs do typically require one.

Connectorized and Mechanical- Release HDRM designs

• Delivery options include connectorization and turnkey integration into shielded harness assemblies • Lightweight materials, unique shapes and profiles • Standard and non-standard • Scalable designs with as little as 5 lbs. (22 N) of release pre-load and as much as 20,000 lbs. (9000 N) • Separation nut designs as well as pin pullers and pin pushers mounting dimensions IAW customer requirements

Light-Duty HDRM Side load bearing, 75 lb. release

Medium-Duty HDRM Redundant, 1000 lb release

Heavy-Duty HDRM Non-redundant, 20,000 lb. release


Complex motorized Ka- band antenna pointing mechanism with GSS- integrated harness assembly

Complex wave guide gain horn assembly with GSS-fabricated components and bespoke shielded wired harness assemblies

Example of an intricately- milled cover for an electromechanical device housing

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Serenity, Firefly

Discovery One, 2001: A Space Odyssey

Millenium Falc Star Wars

Galactica, Battlestar Galactica


Heart of Gold, Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Klingon Bird of Prey, Star Trek

Planet Express Ship, Futurama

© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021



Space Cruiser, Rick and Morty



Milano, Guardians of the Galaxy

USS Enterprise, Star Trek

Borg Cube, Star Trek

Pillar of Autumn, Halo

ConvAirCar, The Jetsons


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Glenair Interconnects and Assemblies in Next-Generation Manned-Flight Space Programs A New Generation of Manned-Flight Interconnect Design-Ins G lenair continues its long history of service in the manned space industry with a broad range of design wins on today’s most mission-critical space applications. From blind-mate and lanyard-release connectors used in launch vehicles umbilical cables to special high-speed data link connectors designed for use on a next-generation space station build, Glenair is still the go-to partner for manned space interconnect engineering and manufacturing. As always, we offer our space industry customers not only discrete component technologies, but engineered assemblies that combine Glenair signature solutions into turnkey assemblies. This page spread provides a brief summary for a few of these design wins, followed up with data sheets for both these as well as some other proven-performance solutions—all with current-day or upcoming manned space flight heritage.

Assisted Separation Force and Lanyard-Release Quick-Disconnect Connectors, Cables, and Conduits for Rocket Launch Applications Umbilical cables and ruggedized conduit assemblies used during rocket launch and inter-stage separation require sophisticated blind-mate and assisted-release connectors for reliable disengagement of the interconnect from the launch vehicle. Problems associated with poorly designed connectors of this type have long plagued launch events, even including for manned space programs. An original Titan (Missile C-2), for example, which had already been selected for use in early Gemini programs, suffered catastrophic failures due to non-separation of umbilical interconnects during launch. These problems have been completely resolved in both

space agency and commercial launch systems through the use of purpose-designed MIL-DTL-38999 type connectors—Glenair SuperNine ® —with accommodation for mating misalignment and spring-loaded assisted release. These solutions, as well as more conventional lanyard-release umbilical connectors, are supplied by Glenair for today’s most mission-critical manned space launch systems.

© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021



High-Density Crimp-Contact Rectangular for Orion MPCV The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV) is a current generation partially reusable space capsule for NASA’s human spaceflight programs. Capable of supporting a crew of six beyond low Earth orbit, it is equipped with solar panels, an automated docking system, and glass cockpit interfaces. Glenair has designed in a number of interconnect technologies onto Orion including a special space-grade Series 791 rack-and-panel rectangular that will be deployed throughout the vehicle. Microminiature form-factor rectangulars are typically only available with pre-terminated factory pigtail wiring. The Series 791 “Micro-Crimp” however, is a high-performance,

The NASA Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, artist concept. The future of human spaceflight?

precision machined, and crimp contact terminateable high-density rectangular connector—perfectly suited for space duty with a full range of unique design features including integrated ground springs, lobed polarization, and fully- shrouded wire termination zones.

Interconnect Design Partner for the Dream Chaser Glenair is the exclusive connector and cable supplier to the Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser, a reusable suborbital and orbital space plane. Originally intended solely as a crew transport vehicle, the Dream Chaser Cargo System is now slated to supply the ISS and autonomously land on conventional runways. Future crewed variants will be capable of carrying up to seven people to and from the Low Earth Orbit ISS. Glenair will supply a broad range of technology to Dream Chaser, most notably our lightweight microfilament braid ArmorLite ™ , which reduces the weight of critical wire shielding in the unpressurized zones of the space vehicle.

High-Speed Data Links for Canadarm3 The Canadian Space Agency has sponsored the development of a multi-purpose robotic arm for use on the International Space Station to deploy, maneuver, and capture arriving payloads. Canadarm3 will be equipped with the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), an instrumentation package of scanners and

lasers used to inspect arriving spacecraft and payloads. Glenair high-speed Series 792 Micro-Crimp connectors and turnkey aerospace-grade cable assemblies with El Ochito ® contact technology will support specified high-speed and high-definition video formats as well as 10Gb Ethernet protocols used on the arm. El Ochito ® is a high-performance shielded contact technology that, in conjunction with its high-performance Series 792 connector packaging, will ensure reliable and uninterrupted datalinks from Canadarm3 to the ISS.

Canadarm as viewed from the International Space Station

QwikConnect • January 2021


Interconnects for Next-Generation Manned-Flight Space Programs

NASA’s STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory), artist’s concept


Blind-Mate Connectors Umbilical Cable, Sealed, Assisted Kick-off, and Lanyard Release Quick-Disconnects

Blind-mate, fixed and float-mount interconnects for launch applications as well as satellite and payload deployment

Application: Glenair SuperNine® Series 253 blind-mate connectors are designed for use in space launch and satellite deployment applications, scientific payloads, interstage, timed release, and more.

„ Available in most symmetrical MIL-STD-1560 insert arrangements with contacts sizes from #23 to #8

„ Selected materials offer low outgassing properties and high resistance to both corrosion and stress corrosion cracking „ Designed to withstand the rigors of launch and flight— including shock, vibration, thermal vacuum, acceleration, and temperature extremes „ Standard accessory threads and teeth per MIL-DTL-38999 accommodate a wide range of backshell accessories „ Crimp-removable contacts standard. PC tails, dual-flange standoffs, hermetically sealed, and custom blind-mate configurations available

© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021




Float-mount and adjustable separation force connectors MIL-DTL-38999 Series III type, environmental, crimp contact


Roll-off nose: allows for the smooth disconnection of blind mate plugs and receptacles.

Float mounting: allows for coplanar movement of the receptacle during mating, preventing contact and shell damage.

Misalignment accommodation: Radial, axial, and angular misalignment during mating is accounted for with integral wave springs.

Sealing: Misalignment accommodation makes environmental sealing difficult. The problem is solved with auxiliary external seals.

EMI shielding: Glenair incorporates ground springs in receptacle connectors and grounding fingers in special coupling nut-equipped plugs to optimize 360° shell-to-shell continuity.

Assisted separation force: Adjustable kick-off style with spring-loaded posts and an adjustment ring to calibrate separation force. A second style uses wave springs on the shell body.


AS81703 space-grade lanyard release push pull mated pair with special order band and boot platform

Jam-free push-on, pull-off technology for reliable fail-safe axial pull and release

QwikConnect • January 2021


Interconnects for Next-Generation Manned-Flight Space Programs



Series 791 The next-generation micro-miniature rectangular connector for demanding aerospace applications. Originally designed for NASA’s Orion project, the 791 is qualified for manned space flight. The 791’s small size and blind mate capability make it a perfect choice for 2U and 3U electronics modules. Space applications include radars, satcom, exoatmospheric vehicles, flight avionics,

Polarized / keyed shells prevent mis-mating and allow designers to specify identical layouts side-by-side without risk of circuit damage

„ Next-generation small form factor aerospace- grade rectangular connector approved for manned space flight „ Scoop-proof recessed pin contacts „ 37 arrangements; 12 shell sizes; size 23, 16, 12 and 8 contacts „ Environmental „ EMI shielded „ Guide pins for blind mate modules

power distribution units, and satellite instrumentation.

Prevent mis-mating with Mod Code 555 special keying option

© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021


SERIES 791 MICRO-CRIMP Next-generation micro-miniature rectangular for demanding aerospace applications


Save Size and Weight with Series 791 Connectors The Next Generation Micro-miniature rectangular Connector for Demanding Aerospace / Space Flight Applications

About The Series 791 T he Series 791 is an aerospace-grade micro- miniature rectangular connector with EMI protection and environmental sealing. Originally developed for NASA’s Orion capsule, The 791 is qualified for manned space flight and is ideal for radars, weapons systems and avionics gear. The Series 791 is available either with crimp pins or with printed circuit terminals. Machined aluminum alloy shells feature dual lobes for polarization. Contact sizes range from size 8 to size 23 in 37 arrangements. Pin contacts are recessed to prevent scooping damage while mating. Crimp contacts conform to M39029 requirements and are rear release. An optional ground spring reduces susceptibility to EMI problems. Fluorosilicone face seals and wire grommets prevent moisture and contamination. Panel mount versions are available with an O-ring, or for improved panel bonding, a metal spring. Board mount versions include straight or right angle terminals. Right angle PCB connectors feature an aluminum shroud covering the terminals. Hardware options include screwlocks, jackscrews or guide pins for blind mate applications.

M-17P17 with size 16 contacts

Integral backshell cable connector

„ Coax, twinax, quadrax and El Ochito octaxial contacts „ Rugged aluminum shell with dual polarizing lobes „ Straight and right angle printed circuit board mounting

„ Available with integral oval band porch or backshell accommodation „ Superior EMI shell-to-shell performance compared to M24308 „ SAE AS39029 crimp-and-poke contacts

Shell size A – the smallest 791

„ -65°C to +150°C „ Panel mount versions with O-ring or EMI spring

Series 791 with MT ferrules

„ Epoxy sealed board-mount configurations, straight and 90°, with and without panel mount sealing „ Internal ground spring „ Fully shrouded shells for superior EMC performance compared to M24308

Series 791 with MT ferrules

„ Ruggedized small form-factor, high-density MT fiber optic solution „ Optimized for use with parallel optic transceivers in ribbon or round cable applications

QwikConnect • January 2021


Interconnects for Next-Generation Manned-Flight Space Programs


El Ochito brings high-speed data-rate performance to the Glenair Series 79 rectangular connector family. Size 8 cavities accept all styles of El Ochito ® shielded octaxial contacts making it a perfect choice for radars, HD cameras, mission computers, Series 792 Crimp- Contact Rectangular

„ High-speed Ethernet, USB 3.0, HDMI, and DisplayPort „ PCB-mount and cable connectors „ Scoop-proof interface „ 16 arrangements and 6 shell sizes „ Precision-machined dual- lobe polarized shells „ Environmentally sealed „ Integrated EMI shielding and grounding „ Blind mating

remote sensors, displays, digital communications gear, and more.

© 2020 Glenair, Inc • 1211 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201 • 818-247-6000 • • U.S. CAGE code 06324 QwikConnect • January 2021


HIGH-SPEED Series 792 The next-generation micro miniature rectangular for high-speed space / aerospace applications







Operating temperature

Shell-to-shell resistance

-65° to +175°C

EIA-364-32 Test Condition IV

2.5 millivolt maximum


1.5 Amps (datalink contacts) 5 Amps (Size #23 contacts) 750 VAC (Size #23 contacts) 1000 VAC (datalink contacts)

Datalink contacts tested: El Ochito® White


Attenuation dB

Current rating


75 50 44 38 35

Shielding effectiveness

1000 3000 6000


DWV (sea level)


Insulation resistance


5000 MΩ minimum


Ingress protection

IP67 rating


Contact resistance, 25°C

EIA-364-06, 1.0 A test current, #24 AWG wire

55 millivolt maximum

Series 792 Contact Arrangements












A-1W1 • A-1G1* 1 #8

A-3W1 1 #8 / 2 #23

B-2W2 • B-2G2* 2 #8

B-6W2 2 #8 / 4 #23

B-23W1 1 #8 / 22 #23









C-3W3 • C-3G3* 3 #8

C-9W3 3 #8 / 6 #23

C-24W2 2 #8 / 22 #23









D-4W4 • D-4G4* 4 #8

D-12W4 4 #8 / 8 #23

D-27W3 3 #8 / 24 #23









E-5W5 • E-5G5* 5 #8

E-15W5 5 #8 / 10#23

E-48W3 3 #8 / 45#23


A1 1














F-9W9 • F-9G9* 9 #8

F-31W9 9 #8 / 22#23

Contact Key

* Grounded aluminum insert

Size #8 Size #23

QwikConnect • January 2021


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