Differential expansion induced fatigue resulting from temperature cycling is a leading cause of solder joint failures in spacecraft. Achieving high reliability flight hardware requires that each element of the fatigue issue be addressed carefully. This includes defining the complete thermal-cycle environment to be experienced by the hardware, developing electronic packaging concepts that are consistent with the defined environments, and validating the completed designs with a thorough qualification and acceptance test program. This paper describes a useful systems approach to solder fatigue based principally on the fundamental log-strain versus log-cycles-to-failure behavior of fatigue. This fundamental behavior has been useful to integrate diverse ground test and flight operational thermal-cycle environments into a unified electronics design approach. Each element of the approach reflects both the mechanism physics that control solder fatigue, as well as the practical realities of the hardware build, test, delivery, and application cycle.

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