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Press Release 97-26

Sally V. Harrington
NASA Lewis Research Center
(Bus: 216/433-2037)


CLEVELAND, OH-- An innovative radiator, designed to provide cooling for the International Space Station, is undergoing testing at the NASA Lewis Research Center's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, OH.

The Photovoltaic Radiator (PVR) system is being tested in Plum Brook's Space Power Facility, the world's largest vacuum chamber. Lockheed Martin Vought Systems of Dallas, TX, manufactured the PVR hardware and is conducting the tests.

The tests, which are evaluating the radiator system and its deployment mechanism, qualification thermal cycling and thermal heat rejection performance, are scheduled for completion in early April. This is one of the final tests of the radiator system prior to its installation on the International Space Station.

The first round of tests confirmed that the radiator's deployment mechanism would operate properly in the cold void of space.

"Validating the deployment mechanism of a photovoltaic radiator system in space conditions is critical to ensure successful deployment in space," said Lewis program manager James Mullins. "The Plum Brook vacuum chamber enabled us to test the radiator in temperatures ranging from -250 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit."

The next phase of testing will use a NASA-designed and-assembled ammonia flow system to evaluate the radiator's performance. Ammonia pumped through the system will collect heat from the Space Station's electronic equipment or module cooling components and transport it to the radiator panels where it will be dissipated.

The PVR is a critical component of the Space Station's thermal control system. It will cool the photovoltaic-power-system electronic equipment and the batteries used for power storage. The PVR also will provide environmental cooling for the service module during early phases of the Space Station.

Each PVR Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) consists of seven radiator panels, each about 6 feet by 12 feet in size. The radiator panels are designed to deploy on orbit from a stowed position about two feet high to an extended position about 50 feet in length.

Each ORU weighs about 1,600 pounds, with a total of four units in the final Space Station configuration. Fabrication of the hardware is being performed by Lockheed Martin Vought Systems under contract to the Rocketdyne Division of Boeing North America, the prime contractor for the International Space Station power system.

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More information about Lewis' International Space Station Electrical Power System Support is available from Lewis' Power & Propulsion Office. A photo and article of the radiator tests are also available.


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