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Spacecraft Thermal ManagementIn the 21st century, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Russian Federal Space Agency, the National Space Agency of Ukraine, the China National Space Administration, and many other organizations representing spacefaring nations shall continue or newly implement robust space programs. Additionally, business corporations are pursuing commercialization of space for enabling space tourism and capital business ventures. Future space missions are likely to include orbiting satellites, orbiting platforms, space stations, interplanetary vehicles, planetary surface missions, and planetary research probes. Many of these missions will include humans to conduct research for scientific and terrestrial benefits and for space tourism, and this century will therefore establish a permanent human presence beyond Earth s confines. Other missions will not include humans, but will be autonomous (e.g., satellites, robotic exploration), and will also serve to support the goals of exploring space and providing benefits to Earth s populace. This section focuses on thermal management systems for human space exploration, although the guiding principles can be applied to unmanned space vehicles as well. All spacecraft require a thermal management system to maintain a tolerable thermal environment for the spacecraft crew and/or equipment. The requirements for human rating and the specified controlled temperature range (approximately 275 K - 310 K) for crewed spacecraft are unique, and key design criteria stem from overall vehicle and operational/programatic considerations. These criteria include high reliability, low mass, minimal power requirements, low development and operational costs, and high confidence for mission success and safety. This section describes the four major subsystems for crewed spacecraft thermal management systems, and design considerations for each. Additionally, some examples of specialized or advanced thermal system technologies are presented, which may be enabling to future space missions never before attempted like a crewed mission to Mars.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Hurlbert, Kathryn Miller (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2009
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.