Air Pressure Research Laboratory awards college $1 billion for area technologies exploration

WASHINGTON — The Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded Utah State University a $1 billion deal to help house-relevant exploration and technology progress at its Room Dynamics Laboratory.

Beneath the deal, the House Dynamics Laboratory will continue to provide an outside supply for important place engineering and capability improvement as a College Affiliated Investigate Middle, or UARC.

“This agreement solidifies the lengthy-phrase strategic partnership concerning AFRL and USU/SDL. The partnership will speed up essential place science and technology projects, especially when we need to speedily react to urgent and unanticipated desires,” reported Col. Eric Felt, director of the AFRL Space Automobiles Directorate, in a statement. “It will allow for us to concentration on proactively out-innovating our peer competitors to guarantee the Room Power continues to have the technologies required to discourage conflict and guarantee our nation’s significant place capabilities are out there every time and wherever necessary

“The overarching aim is to carry out scientific investigations and technologies, analysis and development in the UARC’s core competency parts with no the paperwork and hold off of awarding numerous lesser particular person contracts,” Felt added.

The Area Dynamics Laboratory has a long historical past of governing administration collaboration. It was one particular of the original 6 UARCs specified by the Department of Protection in 1996, but it traces its history significantly farther again, to when its predecessor corporations done area experiments with German V-2 rockets following Environment War II. The laboratory has labored intently with many govt businesses, which includes NASA, the Missile Protection Agency, and the Naval Investigation Laboratory.

The AFRL partnership addresses a significant swath of exploration places, which includes:

  • Room-similar Sensor Devices
  • House-cyberspace and Facts Linked Capabilities
  • Nuclear-Similar Science & Engineering Deterrence Operations
  • Advanced Satellite Navigation and Worldwide Positioning Units (GPS) Technologies
  • Precision Quantum and Photonic Sensors
  • House Environment Exploitation and Mitigation
  • Modest Satellite Portfolio
  • Distributed RF Sensing

“This contract signifies a crucial contribution to assuring that the United States continues to be on the foremost edge of exploration and progress for area-centered technologies. The Area Dynamics Laboratory is honored to be a trusted associate of Air Drive Investigation Laboratory and the U.S. House Pressure to acquire technologies for new missions and manage main capabilities for national protection,” said SDL President Jed Hancock.

Nathan Strout covers room, unmanned and intelligence programs for C4ISRNET.

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AFRL, industry launch revolutionary spacecraft technology > Air Force > Article Display



The Air Force Research Laboratory has partnered with ThermAvant Technologies and Maxar Technologies to develop and deploy the next generation of spacecraft thermal control technology.

The groundbreaking technology, Oscillating Heat Pipes (OHPs), provides lightweight and highly-efficient temperature control on higher-power, yet smaller spacecraft. The OHP was recently launched in the second quarter of 2021 on a Maxar-built satellite.

“Maxar adopts the most innovative technologies to benefit our customers’ missions, and we are proud to support the commercial use of oscillating heat pipes developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and ThermAvant Technologies,” said Chris Johnson, Maxar’s senior vice president of space. “This technology allowed us to provide increased capability to our customers in satisfying their desired performance needs.”

Using OHPs instead of an active thermal management subsystem enables the U.S. Space Force to accomplish its missions at a lower cost.

It should be noted that though the structure of the OHP is static, the fluid oscillates within the microchannels of the structure, causing the heat transfer.

“Oscillating heat pipes have flown in space before, but now OHPs are being relied upon to serve a mission purpose,” said Jon Allison, the thermal thrust lead for the Spacecraft Component Technology Branch of the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate. “The on-orbit operation of OHPs marks an important milestone in the technology transition.”

Allison’s colleague, Brent Taft, has spent more than a decade leading Air Force OHP research, and said he is ecstatic to see OHPs now being used on real-world spacecraft.

“The success of this transition builds upon AFRL and ThermAvant efforts to develop and validate an oscillating heat pipe operating limits model,” Taft said. “AFRL tested early OHP designs in the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader (ASETS) microgravity aircraft flight campaign in 2012, and the ASETS-II experiment on OTV-5 (aka X-37B) in 2017.”

According to AFRL and their industry partners, OHPs are the future of spacecraft thermal control.

“At AFRL, we are excited to have the first operational OHPs flying in space,” Allison said. “I would like to congratulate our Air Force researchers, our contractor ThermAvant, and the system integrator Maxar for their success and dogged commitment. We look forward to seeing OHPs revolutionize thermal control for the next generation of Space Force satellites.”

Allison explained this circuitous technology development path leading from military service laboratories, to private industry, and then back to the military, is actually a common approach.

“Each organization plays a part in bringing technology to fruition,” he said. “The service lab connects the needs of the warfighter with technological possibilities, providing the seed that ultimately yields a viable product. Industry is motivated to take risks to bring better products to market, and commercial success proves to the Space Force that a new technology is reliable enough to serve the warfighter and the nation.”

The incorporation of the OHPs on an operational satellite is a big step forward. AFRL believes this represents the start of the fourth generation of spacecraft thermal

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