NASA is currently seeking technologies that will support use of single-loop thermal control systems (TCSs) aboard spacecraft for human class missions and mechanically-pumped, two-phase flow TCSs. Mainstream proposes a compressor that satisfies both objectives by enabling use of a single-loop, two-phase thermal control system to replace the current two-loop TCS. NASA has historically used two-loop TCSs to mitigate crew toxicity risk, whereby one loop collects heat within the crew module (CM) with a low-toxicity fluid and transfers the heat to a second loop in the external service module (SM) that rejects heat through the radiators. Our proposed system eliminates the intermediate heat exchanger and duplicate components (pumps, valves, etc.). Oure design thermal control system that uses advanced component designs, innovative cooling concepts, integrated control valves, lightweight materials, and a high-speed compressor to achieve low input power and a component mass roughly 1/4th the mass of the current pumping unit. The compressor is by far the most critical component to develop. In Phase I, Mainstream will refine the design of the compressor, fabricate a prototype, and experimentally demonstrate the compressor performance. Phase I will conclude with the experimental demonstration of compressor performance targets including: 1) 8-kW cooling capacity, 2) less than 700 W of input power, 3) 8.2 kg mass, and 4) gravity insensitivity.
NASA applications for the proposed compressor is future thermal control systems for Orion-like manned missions and Deep Space Gateway and Transport missions. Any manned space vehicle would benefit from the expected mass and crew safety advantage offered by the innovative single-loop thermal control system proposed.
Non-NASA applications for the proposed technology include any manned space vehicle launch for exploration or tourism purposes. The European Space Agency has an aggressive interest in a moon landing in the near future. Additionally, non-government commercial entities such as Space-X, Blue Origin, Bigelow Aerospace, and others include space tourism as a future goal.