Phillips Laboratory Space Cryocooler Development and Test Program

  • J. Bruning
  • T. Pilson
Part of the Advances in Cryogenic Engineering book series (ACRE, volume 43)


This paper examines the results of long-life space cryocooler development and testing for various defense needs. For well over a decade, both the Air Force and the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (now Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, or BMDO) recognized the need for long-life space cryocoolers capable of handling a variety of cooling loads spanning the temperature range between 8.5–150 Kelvin. Space borne cryocoolers had a multitude of defense system-level applications, including cryogenic cooling of chilled electronics/CMOS, infrared sensors, missile seeker precooling, launch platform systems checkout and health monitoring, maintaining stored cryogens, and high temperature superconducting device operation. Efforts to develop and fully demonstrate cryocoolers for long-term space operations have had mixed results, with several aspects of designs still preventing true long-life performance of these machines. This paper presents a summary of the results and conclusions of efforts to develop long-life cryocoolers. These results include findings from historical developments, current research areas, and Phillips Laboratory’s extensive ongoing cryocooler test and evaluation efforts. Information presented emphasizes key findings and lessons learned that may help improve existing designs and concepts so that these machines can finally realize their long-life potential. These lessons learned are also examined in light of newly emerging space system requirements that will set the pace for long-life, high efficiency, larger capacity cryocoolers well into the next decade and beyond.


Space System Pulse Tube Cryogenic Cool Reliability Growth Stirling Cycle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Bruning
    • 1
  • T. Pilson
    • 2
  1. 1.Nichols Research CorporationLeasburgUSA
  2. 2.Air Force Phillips LaboratoryKirtland AFBUSA

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