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Small Cryogenic Refrigerator for Single FPA Dewars


OBJECTIVE: Develop a refrigerator suitable for a microsat or 3U cubesat with an individual FPA dewar and IR sensor assembly. DESCRIPTION: Miniaturized satellites, such as cubesats and microsats, are becoming more popular for smaller missions due to their typically reduced cost and development time through use of commercially available components. However, instruments such as infrared focal plane arrays require cooling to cryogenic temperatures a feat that has historically demanded high size, weight, and power (SWaP). Current space-ready cryogenic refrigerators don"t meet the SWaP requirements of such miniature satellites. This solicitation seeks an innovative refrigerator (cryocooler with control electronics) that has to fit in a 3U cubesat (see Cubesat Design Spec. v12 at or microsat supporting single Focal Plane Array (FPA) dewars within Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensors. There are no restrictions on size once in orbit. The refrigerator has to fit within the total spacecraft mass and power budget of 4 kg and 50 W respectively. The refrigerator will meet the requirements by the IR sensor and the Focal Plane Array. The technology will be capable of supporting a 10-year mission in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) or Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and a five year mission in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) after five years of ground storage. The deliverables for this effort should use parts selected for 150 krad total dose (LEO or GEO); however, higher radiation hardness levels (up to 1 Mrad total dose for MEO) should be alternative parts of the design. Two space-flight ready refrigerators will be delivered with a one-year (as a minimum) design life in LEO orbit. The Phase II effort should use low-cost, commercially available cryocoolers while developing rad-hard control electronics. The testing of this prototype system should be indicative of how a long-life cryocooler would be controlled by the electronics if a 5-10 year mission were to be supported. Mission parameters defining the performance envelope are: Cooling temperature: 100 K Cooling load: 1 W Rejection temperature: 275-325 K Duty cycle: 100%, restarts for radiation upsets allowed. EMI/EMC: no phase 1 criteria; will be developed in phase 2. The radiation environment for LEO, GEO, and MEO orbits must be assessed as part of Phase I and then parts selection processes identified in Phase II to support 1- to 10-year mission life durations at those orbits. The small business doing this work must be certified for SECRET collateral work and no foreign nationals can work on this project. A successful Phase I will initiate partnerships with commercial payload vendors who in Phase II will provide specific needs to ensure successful EOIR payload integration. It is suggested that such plausible commercial partners be identified in Phase I proposals. The Phase III will directly involve such partnerships to develop the demonstration payload. There is no requirement for use of any government materials, equipment, data, or facilities. PHASE I: The Phase I work should include fabrication of a representative electronics breadboard to prove performance feasibility and analysis of volume and power feasibility. PHASE II: The Phase II should develop the process and procedures to fabricate, test and deliver multiple space flight ready individual refrigerators. Verification of these procedures through launch and duration tests in a relevant space environment is required. The Phase II should demonstrate applicability to either military or commercial use in a Phase III. PHASE III: The Phase III work will launch this as Space technology demonstration. The microsat or cubesat can be used for security applications and other DOD payloads. The constellation can be used for environmental monitoring and experiments. REFERENCES: 1. Kirkconnell, C.S.,"Aerospace cryocooler selection for optimum payload performance,"Cryocoolers 14, Proc. of the 14th Intl. Cryocooler Conf., 605-614, 2007. 2. Veprik, A., Zechtzer, S., Pundak, N., Kirkconnell, C., Freeman, J. and Riabzev, S.,"Adaptation of the low-cost and low-power tactical split Stirling cryogenic cooler for aerospace applications,"Proc. SPIE 8012, 80122I, 2011. 3. Kirkconnell, C., Hon, R. and Roberts, T.,"Raytheon Stirling/pulse tube cryocooler maturation programs,"Cryocoolers 15, Proc. of the 15th Intl. Cryocooler Conf., 31-37, 2009. 4. Kirkconnell, C., Freeman, J., Hon, R., Jackson, M. and Kieffer, M.,"Modular Linear-Drive Cryocooler Electronics,"Cryocoolers 16, Proc. of the 16th Intl. Cryocooler Conf., 667-674, 2011. 5. Petach, M., Waterman, M., Pruitt, G., and Tward, E.,"High frequency coaxial pulse tube microcooler,"Cryocoolers 15, Proc. of the 15th Intl. Cryocooler Conf., 97-103, 2009.
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