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NASA Launches Sunpower Cryocooler

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Sunpower CT-S cryocoolerSunpower, Inc., the Athens, OH-based provider of free-piston Stirling engine and cryocooler technology, announced that NASA successfully launched a Sunpower CT-S cryocooler on Dec. 5 aboard SpaceX’s CRS 16 spacecraft, as part of the Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3). The mission will pioneer techniques for storing and replenishing spacecraft fuel.

Currently, all spacecraft use consumables to perform key functions, such as maneuvering and maintaining critical equipment. These consumables eventually run out, rendering the spacecraft useless. NASA hopes to replenish these spacecrafts with consumables via robot to maintain their functionality and allow them to stay in space longer, eliminating the need to replace with another spacecraft.

Roughly the size of a washing machine, the 550-lb. RRM3 module hangs from a platform on the International Space Station and has a suite of three unique tools: Cryogen Service Tool, Multi-Function Tool 2, and Visual Inspection Posable Invertebrate Robot 2.
Its primary objectives: transfer liquid methane in microgravity and maintain the cryogen mass with zero boil-off for a period of 6 months.


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