Spacecraft MicroCooler Drive Electronics

Period of Performance: 05/15/2013 - 02/17/2014

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Creare, Inc.
16 Great Hollow Road Array
Hanover, NH 03755
Principal Investigator

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Cubesats and microsats utilizing electro-optical payloads will require cryogenic refrigeration for cooling the infrared Focal Plane Arrays. The cryocooler technical requirements for performance, size, mass, and power density coupled with the programmatic requirements for minimal cost and development time are extremely challenging. Flight-ready cryogenic refrigerators that have been developed for large satellites do not meet technical requirements for future cubesats. In addition, there are point designs that need to be optimized for each mission. Creare proposes to develop a cryogenic refrigerator that leverages technologies and capabilities previously demonstrated on prior programs. Our cryogenic refrigerator will meet mission requirements for size, weight, performance, and reliability. It will also be affordable, modular, and applicable to multiple missions with minimal development. During Phase I, we will develop a set of requirements, design a refrigerator to meet these requirements, assess production cost, and fabricate and evaluate the performance of a representative breadboard. During Phase II, we will fabricate and qualify one or more protoflight refrigerators. Successful completion of this program will enable advanced sensor systems for space-borne surveillance and reconnaissance. BENEFIT: The result of this program will be a lightweight, efficient, reliable, and affordable cryocooler that enables usage of next-generation focal plane technology in space-borne surveillance and reconnaissance systems. Commercial applications include cooling for sensors used in infrared astronomical and hyperspectral sensors and infrared vision systems.