12/10/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/10/2018 01:02
ATHENS, OH, December 10, 2018 -- Sunpower, Inc., the world leader in free-piston Stirling engine and cryocooler technology, announces that NASA successfully launched a Sunpower CT-S cryocooler on December 5, 2018 aboard SpaceX's CRS 16 spacecraft, as part of the Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3), that will pioneer techniques for storing and replenishing spacecraft fuel.
The RRM3 platform will allow NASA to adapt technology that could dramatically change the way the space agency plans and designs for deep-space exploration. 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.
The RRM3 mission is critical to better understanding and perfecting this technology, and Sunpower is proud to work with NASA towards that effort. The RRM3 mission builds on two previous robotic refueling missions: the RRM1 and RRM2. Roughly the size of a washing machine, the 550-lb. RRM3 module will hang from a platform on the International Space Station. The RRM3 has a suite of three unique tools: Cryogen Service Tool, Multi-Function Tool 2, and Visual Inspection Posable Invertebrate Robot 2.
The primary objectives of the RRM3 mission are to transfer liquid methane in microgravity and maintain the cryogen mass with zero boil-off for a period of six months. For more information on the RRM3 mission, visit: https://sspd.gsfc.nasa.gov/RRM3.html
This mission marks the 82nd successful launch of a Sunpower cryocooler into space with zero cryocooler failures, the most launches of any commercial cryocooler. The first Sunpower cryocooler was launched aboard the RHESSI satellite in 2002 and is still operating to this day with over 150,000 hours of run-time. In total, Sunpower cryocoolers have over 500,000 hours of cumulative space run-time. For more information on Sunpower cryocoolers, visit: www.sunpowerinc.com
Sunpower, Inc. is a business unit of the Materials Analysis Division of AMETEK, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices with annualized sales of $4.8 billion.