We are designing a board (RF) which also has an RF amplifier that emmits a 5W signal. Unfortunately,as its a space PCB we cannot have a ground or copper por that can dissipate heat. More over the absence of air in space will prevent dissipation of heat into the ambient area.

If there is kind of vaccum without any air around, how will heat be dissipated ? What are the implications ,impact of a design such as this ? How can I reduce the heat generated in this way ?

Would the apt way be revising the BOM to select components of a better thermal resistance ? Kindly advice please ?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sun's heat travel through space \$\endgroup\$
    – User323693
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Basic physics revision note - three modes of heat energy movement conduction - (transfer through solid/contact), convection (by movement of gas or liquid), radiation (IR em through a vacuum) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you're plonking the PCB right into space with nothing around it in ways of a localised "atmosphere", yep, you should definitely get different parts. \$\endgroup\$
    – Asmyldof
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


Thermal management in spacecraft is usually its own subsystem separate (but connected) to the electrical system. That means it's important for us to know where your space PCB is living. Is it inside a larger satellite like a cubesat? is it a sprite that's just floating around? These will inform the particulars of your solution.

Regardless, the only way you're going to get rid of heat is through radiating it away. This is normally done by having a flat plate mounted to your spacecraft that's painted white, which is then thermally connected to your amplifier. This connection can be made by simply bonding the plate directly to your amp with thermal paste (if its a sprite), or, if your pcb is inside a satellite, with something like a heat pipe, to connect the amp to the exterior structure.

In the end, all you're doing is increasing the surface area of the amp with a piece of metal and heating that metal up so that the excess energy gets sent away as infrared radiation. It's not as dramatic as convective cooling here on Earth, but it will do the job.


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