Thermacore was recently selected by NASA Space Technology’s Game Changing Development Program to have one of its unique thermal management concepts evaluated for potential use in future spacecraft.

NASA’s Game Changing Development Program released a solicitation to the nation to help solve a challenging spacecraft thermal management issue, specifically, to help meet the difficult challenge of creating systems that can reject high heat loads in a warm thermal environment, yet operate in a very cold environment, where maintenance is often difficult or impossible. Thermacore and seven other researchers were selected by NASA based on their unique technical solution. A complete range of public and private R&D organizations, educational institutions and industrial centers worldwide were eligible for selection.

The proposed Thermacore solution is an improved variable-conductance heat pipe (VCHP) containing a novel working fluid that operates in a very wide temperature range, which uses a proprietary orifice disk (patent pending) for fluid movement control. The new disk and working fluid allows the VCHP to operate effectively in a wider range of applications than standard heat pipes, including long-term space flight. The improved VCHP can also use standard working fluids, making it more cost-effective and with lower mass than conventional VCHP’s used today.

Thermacore design and technology capabilities are also supporting the concept submitted by another NASA selectee, UTC Aerospace Systems’ Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International, Inc. of Windsor Locks, Conn., which is developing a robust freeze start-up radiator.

“Our selection by NASA reflects our ability to combine proven technology, already operational in spacecraft, with newly-developed enhancements that extend our heat pipe capabilities,” said Gregg Baldassarre, Thermacore Vice President, Sales and Marketing. “We’re proud to be part of this exciting program focused on the future of space exploration.”

The NASA Game Changing Development Program is a four-phase initiative. Phase I is designed to study the feasibility of the thermal management concepts involved. Once the concepts are approved for further development, future phases will involve benchtop testing, detailed drawings for a scaled-down model, and in Phase IV, fabrication of a prototype for testing. Completion of all four phases is expected to take approximately three years.

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