Due to current industry trends in electronics component design and packaging, spacecraft are becoming smaller and more powerful. As a result, spacecraft power densities are projected to increase dramatically in the coming years, and thermal considerations are expected to become an even larger problem than on current spacecraft. This project presents a new thermal control solution in development at the Air Force Research Laboratory called the Resilient Thermal Panel, which provides a 30X increase in thermal performance by integrating a two-dimensional flat heat pipe into a thermal skin in a honeycomb structural panel. The Resilient Thermal Panel is critical to next generation spacecraft design by making each panel on the bus isothermal. A thorough characterization of the Resilient Thermal Panel in micro-gravity is necessary to verify heat transfer occurs through capillary action rather than gravity-assisted thermosiphon effects, to validate the thermal/fluid models for optimization of the current system and to design future generations of two-phase multi-functional structures.
Resilient thermal panels provide a new thermal control solution for future spacecraft electronic components by making each panel on the bus isothermal, which will benefit future commercial and government satellites.