As the scientific requirements of microsatellites migrate closer to those of larger, more-expensive traditional satellites, the technical requirements on the key enabling components and subsystems are becoming more demanding. If the utility of microsatellites is ever to expand to include high performance mid-wave infrared (MWIR) and short-wave infrared (SWIR) sensors, significant advancement in the state of art of small cryocooler systems is required. The Microsat Cryocooler System (MCS) is a radiation hard, space-qualified integrated cryocooler assembly (ICA) for CubeSat and microsat applications. The ICA includes a high reliability tactical cryocooler, a miniature set of Low Cost Cryocooler Electronics (mLCCE), the thermal management components, and the isolation structure. As is the case with the larger LCCE from which it was derived, the mLCCE supports any of a wide range of linear cryocoolers in its design output power range (nominally 25W). With minor adaptation, rotary coolers are also supported.
This paper presents the initial results from the brassboard phase of the MCS Program. A high fidelity set of cryocooler electronics with a well-defined upgrade path to a space-compatible design has been built and tested with the target cryocooler. Those data are presented. In addition to reducing risk for the spaceflight design to follow, these electronics are being released as an intermediate product for high-end tactical applications where the plug-and-play operability among different coolers and the enhanced level of control and programmability (relative to typical tactical cooler electronics) are desired.
The overall CubeSat-compatible mechanical subsystem design is also presented, including descriptions of the thermal management and vibration isolation approaches.