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Cryocooler Vibrational Characterization

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

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. These flights 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.

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