"Qualification" of fiber optic components holds a very different meaning than it did ten years ago. In the past,
qualification meant extensive prolonged testing and screening that led to a programmatic method of reliability assurance.
For space flight programs today, the combination of using higher performance commercial technology, with shorter
development schedules and tighter mission budgets makes long term testing and reliability characterization unfeasible.
In many cases space flight missions will be using technology within years of its development and an example of this is
fiber laser technology. Although the technology itself is not a new product the components that comprise a fiber laser
system change frequently as processes and packaging changes occur. Once a process or the materials for manufacturing
a component change, even the data that existed on its predecessor can no longer provide assurance on the newer version.
In order to assure reliability during a space flight mission, the component engineer must understand the requirements of
the space flight environment as well as the physics of failure of the components themselves. This can be incorporated
into an efficient and effective testing plan that "qualifies" a component to specific criteria defined by the program given
the mission requirements and the component limitations. This requires interaction at the very initial stages of design
between the system design engineer, mechanical engineer, subsystem engineer and the component hardware engineer.
Although this is the desired interaction what typically occurs is that the subsystem engineer asks the components or
development engineers to meet difficult requirements without knowledge of the current industry situation or the lack of
qualification data. This is then passed on to the vendor who can provide little help with such a harsh set of requirements
due to high cost of testing for space flight environments. This presentation is designed to guide the engineers of design,
development and components, and vendors of commercial components with how to make an efficient and effective
qualification test plan with some basic generic information about many space flight requirements. Issues related to the
physics of failure, acceptance criteria and lessons learned will also be discussed to assist with understanding how to
approach a space flight mission in an ever changing commercial photonics industry.`