Qualification of The MELFI Cryocooler to be Used in the International Space Station 2000-01-2326
AIR LIQUIDE and LINDE AG have developed, under a MATRA MARCONI SPACE contract, a cold power generator (90 W at −80°C) to be integrated in the Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer for International Space Station (MELFI). This generator is based on a Nitrogen Brayton Cycle and will provide a permanent source of cold during the long duration mission (up to two years) in the International Space Station (ISS).
The paper presents the main specifications, the Brayton cycle concept and briefly describes the internal arrangement of the generator. The design of the turbomachine is presented in details. Results of extensive development tests and qualification tests are discussed, as well.
The paper also presents potential improvements and possible spin-off for the turbomachine. It is shown that it could be adapted for various industrial applications such as the automotive industry or small liquefaction plants. The Brayton cycle could also be well suited for providing almost vibration free cryo-coolers for very low temperatures, as for Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) or DARWIN infra red space telescopes.