Radatox, wires and cables resistant to atomic oxygen

22 Oct 2019

Space, above us, is far from empty.  The extra-terrestrial threat is real, mainly for satellites and the International Space Station in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).  The enemy here is the environment in which satellites are evolving.  The multiple threats include radiation, ultraviolet radiation and impact from orbital debris, micrometeoroids and especially atomic oxygen (ATOX).  ATOX corrosion can cause very severe damage to spacecraft exteriors orbiting at less than 1000 km altitude.  In order to face the threat, Axon’ Cable has developed a “weapon” which makes interconnect links highly resistant: RadatoxTM.

100 times more resistant!

Designed by Axon’ engineers, RadatoxTM is an insulating material which makes electrical interconnects 10 times more resistant than wires insulated with fluoro-polymer materials like FEP, PTFE or PTFE.  Moreover, RadatoxTM is 100 times more resistant to atomic oxygen than polyimide materials such as Kapton®!  This material contributes to improve the life expectancy of long-term space missions in the some of the harshest environments.

Flexible and lightweight

The radiation resistance of RadatoxTM is particularly remarkable because RadatoxTM wires rated to better than 200 Mrad are twice as flexible as polyimide insulated wires, making the cabling easier in space-restricted areas.  They are also easy to strip.  Another major advantage for space applications is mass saving. RadatoxTM insulated wires are half the weight of those insulated in FEP, PFA or PTFE. And the icing on the cake: all performances have been tested by recognized and independent laboratories including the European Space Agency’s specialized ATOX lab at ESTEC.

A real threat

In space, solar radiation has enough energy to break apart oxygen (O2) molecules and create atomic oxygen (O).  This very abundant particle, particularly present at altitudes from 180 km to 650 km, erodes and damages materials including many polymers and even certain metals such as silver.   Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) blankets, solar panels and wires and cables located on spacecraft exteriors are all susceptible.  ATOX erosion limits the service life of the components and therefore of the mission.  Protection against atomic oxygen is, therefore, a key challenge for the space industry.

Space heritage

Wires and cables insulated with RadatoxTMare an ideal solution in terms of mass saving and for satellites in low orbit and/or with long-term missions for which the ATOX impact is extreme.  But Axon’ Cable also offers wires qualified according to ESA standards including ESCC3901/018 and ESCC3901/024 with a lower resistance to ATOX but sufficient for missions located in the highest orbits or for shorter missions.  Heavily involved in the space industry for over 20 years, the company has been manufacturing wires, cables and interconnects designed for the harshest environments.