Space Cryocooler Expander Producibility Initiative

Period of Performance: 09/05/2003 - 06/01/2004

$67.8K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Modern Industries, Inc.
4755 E. Beautiful Ln.
Phoenix, AZ 85044
Principal Investigator

Abstract

As the applications requiring cryogenically-cooled sensors continue to increase there is a strong interest in addressing the producibility of cryocooler designs without compromising lifetime or reliability. Space cryocoolers typically have a recurring manufacturing cost of over $1M; many significant cost drivers are included in the expander design. Manufacturing tolerances within 100 millionths of an inch are commonplace for non-contacting piston operation; the construction of the hybrid Stirling / pulse tube cold head presents manufacturing challenges that have not yet been met by industry. The purpose of this program is to develop low cost, repeatable, high reliability manufacturing methods for constructing Stirling / pulse tube cryocooler cold heads for use by Raytheon in the manufacture of such space cryocooler systems. The proposed effort combines the manufacturing expertise of Modern Industries with the hybrid cold head design capabilities of Raytheon. Raytheon brings a strong design capability of mechanical cryocoolers to the project; Modern Industries with 15 years experience in the manufacture of critical cryocooler components brings a strong manufacturing background to the team. Benefits primarily relate to development of advanced space cryocooler products that embody the critical features required for cooling of multiple interfaces in a design that is compatible with production rates of tens of cryocoolers per year. The resultant design has the potential to substantially reduce acquisition cost without compromising operational life or reliability.