BAe 80 K Cryocooler Life Test for Space-Based Infrared Surveillance
A pair a British Aerospace (BAe) 80K cryocoolers is currently in life test to support the cooling needs of space-based infrared surveillance sensors. The cooler pair is mounted vertically back-to-back within a vacuum bell jar. The pair carries a combined cold end load of 300 milliwatts at 60K. The heat rejection temperature alternates between 280K and 290K once per month to simulate on-orbit temperature extremes.
The test started in March 1993 and as of January 1994 had accumulated 8.5 months of operating time. The test was interrupted in January for extensive testing with flight-like electronics. The life test is scheduled to resume in May 1994 with the flight-like electronics replacing the previously used BAe supplied laboratory electronics.
The pair had operated within its required performance envelope of 300 milliwatts at 60±0.5K for less than 60 watts of total motor power at the time of shutdown in January 1994. Load lines taken at 6 months indicated that there is no significant degradation in the performance of either cryocooler.
The commercially available BAe 80K cooler is attractive for near term surveillance applications because it has been thoroughly performance characterized, has legacy to NASA’s ISAMS instrument currently operating on-orbit, and is currently in production with 18 units delivered to date.
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