Air Force Research Laboratory Cryocooler Characterization and Endurance Update
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The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has been instrumental in advancing space cryocooler technology through cryocooler development and characterization of the. long-term performance of different types of cryocoolers. These coolers were developed to support the long life space mission requirements of the United States Air Force SBIRS-Low Program Office, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense. Long life cryocooler applications include cooling infrared sensors, focal planes, optics and electronic circuits for various space missions of national interest.
The main objective of this paper is to present the status of the cryocoolers currently undergoing characterization and endurance evaluation at AFRL. The information gained through these processes is shared with industry partners, cryocooler developers, technology sponsors, and technology users. This feedback is essential for cryocooler design enhancements and future cryogenic technology development efforts. There are two cryocoolers undergoing characterization at AFRL. These include the Astrium (formerly Matra Marconi Space) 10 K Cryocooler, and the TRW 150 K miniature pulse tube (150K MPT). In addition, there are five cryocoolers undergoing endurance evaluation at AFRL These include the Raytheon Protoflight Spacecraft Cryocooler, Raytheon Standard Spacecraft Cryocooler (SSC) II, TRW 3585, TRW 6020, and the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) cryocooler. This paper includes each cryocooler’s status, and update or initial report on its performance, elapsed runtime hours, performance anomalies and updated characterization and endurance evaluation data.
KeywordsParasitic Load Load Line Pulse Tube Thermodynamic Performance Endurance Evaluation
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