A Giant Leap for Space Tourism

left-icon left-icon A Giant Leap for Space Tourism
Innovation

The year 2021 marked a milestone in the commercial space race with Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin achieving sub-orbital space flights just days apart. More recently, SpaceX successfully launched an all-civilian crew into orbit. These successful trips demonstrate the tremendous advances in technology used in spacecrafts and in supporting ground-based systems for satellite communications, testing, diagnostics radar and sonar applications.

In a recent interview, Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson said that there is room for many more companies to take people into sub-orbital and orbital space in the near future. “The more spaceships we can build, the more we can bring the price down, and the more we’ll be able to satisfy demand, and that will happen over the years to come.” Space tourism – once the stuff of science fiction and the most ambitious of dreamers – suddenly becomes a very real possibility. The breadth of exploration and experimentation enabled by commercial space travel will serve as stepping stones for interplanetary space travel.

Key to making this happen is Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solutions that can dramatically reduce payload costs – one of the biggest barriers to space missions. The traditionally costly and lengthy development process of custom-built solutions for reliable ground-based equipment and rocket launches has hampered significant progress in the commercial space industry.

Recognizing the potential of COTS power solutions to enable further advancements in commercial space travel, Advanced Energy developed COTS products that are not only affordable and reduce time to market, but also provide a highly reliable and rugged low-voltage power supply. Leveraging 40 years of leadership in precision power, a commitment to reliability and an innovative mindset, Advanced Energy’s customizable COTS solutions meet customer needs at a considerably lower cost than radiation-hardened electronics. The higher efficiency of its power solutions translates to lower heat losses and cooler components that prolong the equipment’s lifetime.

While Advanced Energy’s high-reliability, low-voltage power solutions are mainly utilized for ground-based equipment well-suited for satellite communications, testing, diagnostics, radar and sonar applications that play a critical role in successful space missions. All COTS solutions from Advanced Energy have undergone highly accelerated life testing (HALT), a process that reveals the limitations of a part’s design and reliability by pushing it until breaking point via exposure to extreme conditions such as intense heat or high gravitational forces (G-Force). In addition to regulating operating temperatures, Advanced Energy’s COTS solutions have been certified to withstand intense shock and vibrations, both of which greatly impact ground systems and blast zones. 

For example, Advanced Energy’s fanless modular power supply is ideal for applications requiring high reliability. By eliminating the need for a fan to regulate temperature, the power supply reduces the risk of system malfunction from a moving mechanical part sensitive to vibrations and prone to draw in potentially damaging dust and particles from the outside. Other products have been designed with a plug-and-play architecture for maximum flexibility, allowing custom power-solution configuration in less than five minutes.

In addition, Advanced Energy’s COTS solutions are configurable, which brings added benefits such as time reduction on system design development. During the design process, requirements often change. For example, developers may find themselves needing extra outputs, different voltages or additional power and current. A configurable power supply enables these changes to be addressed using the same power platform. This cuts down on system design time, as developers no longer need to wait for qualification of a new standard part or a complete redesign in the case of custom power. And when power requirements change, the same configurable platform can accommodate these adjustments without having to resubmit certification – a process that may impact the market launch of the system by months.

Advanced Energy’s cost-effective, configurable and highly reliable COTS power solutions help new players enter the burgeoning commercial space travel industry that is likely to expand significantly in the coming years. With a commitment to shape and transform new industries, Advanced Energy’s power solutions may soon allow ordinary individuals to experience what only astronauts have been trained and privileged to explore: space—humankind’s final frontier.

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Dermot Flynn • Advanced Energy

Dermot Flynn is the Director of Strategic Marketing, HV/LV at Advanced Energy. In his 20 years in the power supply industry, Dermot has held a number of senior roles in product development, product & technical marketing, and sales. Dermot holds BAI in Electronic and Electrical Engineering and BA in Mathematics from Trinity College, Dublin, as well as a Higher Diploma in Management & Marketing from University College, Cork, and H-Dip in Education from Trinity College, Dublin.

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