The proposed development of an extremely miniaturized (< 2 in3) cryocooler control electronics module addresses the immediate need for radiation hardened controllers to pair with existing and emerging small (<300 g) cryocoolers to support the implementation of infrared sensing capability on small satellites, all the way down to 2U (10 x 10 x 20 cm). This research makes relevant to the small sat industry the recent tactical cryocooler developments focusing on hot midwave infrared (HMWIR), nominally 120K to 150K operation. West Coast Solutions, teamed with Creare, proposes to apply decades of experience and success in novel cryocooler electronics (CCE) solutions to the development of the industry’s first radiation hard CCE targeting this new class of low voltage, low power cryocoolers. Longer term, the proposed effort is strongly leveraged by ongoing Missile Defense Agency-funded small satellite cryocooler development efforts to improve even further upon the current state of the art in miniature coolers. Phase I simulations, design, and hardware demonstrations will lead into the detailed design, build, test, and qualification of a flight-ready prototype in Phase II.
In the near term, enabling the deployment of HMWIR sensors on satellites as small as 2U for Earth sensing, lunar, and interplanetary missions. Longer term, pairing the LP-CCE with the WCS SmallSat Stirling cryocooler extends the applicability to LWIR.
Ballistic missile defense, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and other US Government missions have similar cryocooling requirements. In particular, space situational awareness (SSA) is an emerging component of a resilient space architecture, and the ability to augment SSA capabilities with MWIR and LWIR sensors is an ongoing aeras of interest for the Department of Defense.