Specifying a Capacitor for Space-Based Applications White Paper

In 1957 humans launched the first satellite into space. This groundbreaking moment kicked off a new era for those in the science and engineering community. Since then, the way we think about space has continued to evolve. In recent years, that evolution has exponentially increased as the number of space-based applications has risen significantly. Accessing and using space is now a critical part of our day to day lives. From GPS and internet to national defense and the study of our universe, we rely on space-based technologies to keep us safe and improve the quality of our lives. As the cost to launch objects into space continues to fall, space has become far more accessible. No longer are the days where large government agencies or defense contractors were the only entities who had the means to put something into orbit. Today, small countries’ space agencies, universities, researchers, and smaller companies now have access to space. In addition, larger companies and space agencies can easily afford to launch arrays of thousands of smaller “cube satellites” into orbit. As the designs of these modern space technologies are being developed, several key factors need to be considered when selecting critical electronic components. Capacitors play a major role in countless critical systems including propulsion, power management, communications, RADAR, LIDAR, filtering, and many more. The way capacitors are specified for use in space is very different than was done as recently as 10 years ago. This whitepaper will serve as a guide that will highlight important design criteria to consider when selecting a capacitor for any space application, from large highprofile missions to smaller cost sensitive projects. NASA EEE-INST-002 is the gold standard and a great starting place for understanding what a capacitor should be designed to withstand in order to be suitable for use in space. While EEE-INST-002 covers a variety of components including connectors and resistors, section C1 focuses specifically on capacitors. In section C1, a screening protocol (Figure 1) is outlined. Screening tests are intended to remove nonconforming parts (parts with random defects that are likely to result in early failures, known as infant mortality) from an otherwise acceptable lot and thus increase confidence in the reliability of the parts selected for use. NASA EEE-INST-002 requires that all flight and qualification tests capacitors from the same production lot must be screened 100%. This includes a visual inspection, thermal shock, voltage burn-in, and hermetic seal test to name a few. Qualification requirements are outlined based on the capacitor technology (ceramic, tantalum, plastic, glass etc).
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Space Missions - A list of all Space Missions


Name Date
Altius 01 May, 2025
AWS 01 Mar, 2024
Eutelsat Quantum 30 Jul, 2021
Sentinel 6 21 Nov, 2020
Cheops 18 Dec, 2019
EDRS 06 Aug, 2019
Small Geostationary Satellite 17 Nov, 2018
BepiColombo 20 Oct, 2018
Aeolus 22 Aug, 2018
Sentinel 3B 25 Apr, 2018


Name Date
EOS-2 07 Aug, 2022
EOS-4 14 Feb, 2022
EOS-3 12 Aug, 2021
EOS-1 07 Nov, 2020
RISAT-2BR1 11 Dec, 2019
Cartosat-3 27 Nov, 2019
Chandrayaan II 06 Sep, 2019
RISAT-2B 22 May, 2019
Resourcesat-2A 07 Dec, 2016
AstroSat 28 Sep, 2015


Name Date
NEO Surveyor 01 Jun, 2028
Libera 01 Dec, 2027
Europa Clipper 10 Oct, 2024
SpaceX CRS-29 09 Nov, 2023
Psyche 13 Oct, 2023
DSOC 13 Oct, 2023
Psyche Asteroid 05 Oct, 2023
Expedition 70 27 Sep, 2023
SpaceX Crew-7 25 Aug, 2023
STARLING 18 Jul, 2023