NASA's Electrical, Electronic and Electromechanical (EEE) Parts Selection Standards & Guidelines

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Dec 13, 2022

NASA provides guidelines to developers, engineers, and manufacturers to choose and manage parts and equipment to facilitate several space explorations and missions. To qualify for certain specific missions, the parts or equipment to be used must be tested and approved by NASA under their specified regulations and instructions. All components used in space must meet the stringent testing for outgassing (the release of trapped air) and residual magnetism to be suitable for use in space applications and several other factors. 

The two important guidelines set by NASA for selecting parts or equipment and upholding manufacturing standards are:

  • NASA EEE-INST-001
  • NASA EEE-INST-002

NASA EEE- INST 001 helps in the selection and upholding of manufacturing standards for the following parts:

  • Capacitors
  • Crystal Oscillators
  • Diodes
  • Transistors
  • Fiber Optics
  • Filters
  • Fuses
  • Microcircuits
  • Magnetics
  • Relays
  • Resistors
  • Thermistors
  • Wire & Cable

NASA EEE -INST 002 helps in the selection and upholding of manufacturing standards of space connectors.

Both the standards put forth by NASA segregates these components into 3 levels - Level 1, Level 2 & Level 3. The term  “Level” is attached to each component. A Level 1 Part has the highest performance & reliability while a Level 3 part has the lowest. 

Level 1:

Level 1 is the highest component assurance class assigned part. Level 1 parts are those produced under assurance classes recognized by NASA as providing the highest possible level of quality and reliability The technical assessment results for Level 1 products will show that no known situation exists that harm the quality, reliability, or performance of space flight applications. The Level 1 criteria are summarized as follows:

  • The supplier's facility(s) must be certified under a recognized quality assurance system (e.g. QML, QPL, ISO 9000) and produce products to the space industry recognized highest assurance classes 
  • A Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Land and Maritime audit or a NASA program manufacturer survey to the highest assurance classes must have been completed within the past 2 years.
  • A part procurement specification, containing the highest assurance class requirements, must exist. Parts must have been procured previously by a NASA project using this specification.
  • Parts analysis data on the manufacturer's products must be available and not reveal poor workmanship trends or rejection trends.
  • Failure analysis history for the manufacturer’s products should not reveal problem trends attributed to part quality and reliability.
  • No recent unresolved GIDEP Alerts (past 3 years) exist that have a major impact on the Level 1 products’ quality or reliability. No GIDEP Alert or NASA Parts Advisory trends exist on the manufacturer or product.

Level 2:

Level 2 is the second-highest component assurance class assigned part. Level 2 has a high level of quality and reliability from NASA-approved manufacturing sources, and meets NASA space-level parts and packaging program assessment criteria. The Level 2 criteria are summarized as follows:

  • The supplier's facility(s) must be certified under a recognized quality assurance system (e.g. QML, QPL, ISO 9000) and produce products to space industry-recognized high assurance classes
  • A Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Land and Maritime audit or a NASA program manufacturer survey must have been completed within the past 2 years.
  • A part procurement specification, containing the high assurance class requirements, must exist. Parts must have been procured previously by a NASA project using this specification.
  • Failure analysis history for the manufacturer’s products should not reveal problem trends attributed to part quality and reliability.

Level 3:

Level 3 is the minimum product assurance class. Level 3 contains many advanced electronic functions (from a space flight applications standpoint) and has been created to provide a technological entry path into NASA flight projects. Parts listed are those produced by reputable manufacturers under a recognized quality assurance system (QML, QPL, ISO 9000) or their equivalent. Level 3 listings intend to provide newer products, have greater functionality and enhanced performance characteristics, and provide higher levels of integration. Because the product has little or no heritage in space flight application and data is unavailable or scarce, these parts are considered higher risk than the Level 1 and Level 2 parts. While the price of these parts may be less than the traditional levels, more engineering evaluation may be needed to qualify the part for the project's application. The overall reliability and cost of ownership should be considered when selecting these parts. Level 3 criteria are summarized as follows:

  • The manufacturer has supplied and qualified parts for several NASA space projects within the past 2 years.
  • Available data on the manufacturer shows no significant problem trends such as GIDEP Alerts or NASA Parts Advisories, a low DPA rejection rate for the manufacturer's products in general, and no significant failures attributable to product quality and/or reliability.

NEPAG (NASA Electronics Parts Assurance Group) recommends selecting a Level 3 product when a higher Level part does not exist and/or enhanced functionality is required to meet system design requirements. Parts at this level are not recommended for use in mission-critical applications.