Characterization of Raytheon’s 60 K 2W Protoflight Spacecraft Cryocooler
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The Air Force Research Laboratory Cryogenic Cooling Research Facility is supported by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) and the U.S. Air Force SBIRS Low Program Office. It was created to characterize the thermodynamic performance and long life potential of cryogenic cooling technologies developed by various defense industry contractors. The objectives of the characterization process are to explore the cooler’s ability to perform at its design point and to map its range of thermodynamic operation. This provides a detailed performance envelope for alternative space applications and aids in providing valuable feedback to cryocooler developers. This paper provides an overview of the AFRL characterization of the Protoflight Spacecraft Cryocooler (PSC) built by Raytheon Systems Co.
The PSC is a split Stirling cryocooler with dual, opposing motion compressors and a displacer, which uses a mass balancer to reduce vibration. It is designed to lift a heat load of 2W at 60K, with a nominal rejection temperature of 300K. The characterization of the PSC involved a series of experiments, including cool-down to lowest temperature, design point verification, parameter optimization, stiction tests, long term-stability, transient thermal response (due to orbital temperature variation) and a proto-qualification thermal vacuum test. The performance map is charted providing a graphical display of important parameters including specific power, calculated as input power per watt of cooling. The off-nominal performance evaluation included lifting 1.2W at 35K and 6W at 120K, while operating within recommended total input power and stroke boundaries.
KeywordsHeat Load Space Flight Stroke Length Constant Stroke Thermal Vacuum Chamber
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