Overview of NASA's Thermal Control System Development for Exploration Project 2009-01-2436
NASA's Constellation Program includes the Orion, Altair, and Lunar Surface Systems (LSS) project offices. The first two elements, Orion and Altair, are manned space vehicles while the third element is broader and includes several subelements including Rovers and a Lunar Habitat. The upcoming planned missions involving these systems and vehicles include several risks and design challenges. Due to the unique thermal environment, many of these risks and challenges are associated with the vehicles' thermal control system. NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) includes the Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP). ETDP consists of several technology development projects. The project chartered with mitigating the aforementioned risks and design challenges is the Thermal Control System Development for Exploration Project. The risks and design challenges are addressed through a rigorous technology development process that culminates with an integrated thermal control system test. The resulting hardware typically has a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of approximately six. This paper summarizes the development efforts being performed by the technology development project. The development efforts involve heat acquisition and heat rejection hardware including radiators, heat exchangers, and evaporators. The project has also been developing advanced phase change material heat sinks and performing assessments for thermal control system fluids.