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Cryocooler Vibrational Characterization

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Cryocooler Vibrational Characterization
The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) VF-200 is scheduled to fly onboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014. The VF-200 is a high-power, 200 kW, plasma rocket prototype that will be used to demonstrate and validate key VASIMR technologies and related plasma exhaust plume physics in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), enabling a possible paradigm shift in high power electric propulsion for manned and unmanned spacecraft. The baseline VF-200 design includes a set of High Temperature Superconducting (HTS) magnet assemblies that are conduction cooled by cryocoolers. NASAs Office of the Chief Technologist - Flight Opportunities Program will allow for characterization of the cryocoolers natural vibrational modes in varying levels of gravity, from 1g in our lab to Lunar 0.16g, to Martian 0.38g, and to near 0g during parabolic flights. Characterizing these vibrational modes is required for designing and building high temperature superconducting electrical lead interfaces in the required microgravity environment, aggressively accelerating the pace of VASIMR technology development in support of NASAs mission to develop game changing technologies that enable exploration beyond LEO. The vibrational mode characterization in varying gravity levels will allow also for vibration isolating mounting structures for these cryocoolers in applications such as in-situ resource utilization and zero boil-off propellant tanks. More »

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