Paragon Developing Advanced Radiator for Inflatable Habitats

Paragon Space Development Corporation will develop a flexible radiator for inflatable habitats and an improved condenser for use on human space missions with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency has selected the Tuscon, Ariz.-based company for two contracts under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The agreements are worth up to $125,000 apiece over 13 months.

The target market for Paragon’s Flexible Radiator (FlexRAD) is “long duration human spaceflight exploration missions and other spacecraft” that use a single loop  active thermal control system (ATCS).

“Fully realized, FlexRAD can be integrated into near-term NASA and commercial human space exploration missions of LEO, the Moon, the Deep Space Gateway, Mars, and beyond,” the proposal summary states. “FlexRAD can be optimized for gravity-based surface habitats or microgravity transit vehicles.”

The new radiator could also be used on commercial habitats planned by Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, NanoRacks, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Axiom Space.

“Paragon already has relationships in place with these companies. SNC and ULA have expressed interest in FlexRAD and provided letters of support for Paragon’s development efforts that can be provided upon NASA request,” the company said.

Paragon’s COndensate Separator for MIcrogravity Conditions (COSMIC) is designed to better separate condensate from air aboard human space vehicles and to do so with low power use.

 “Spacecraft thermal management is necessary and COSMIC enables missions by increasing system safety and performance, reducing system mass, and increasing system reliability,” the propsal summary states.

“These technologies are crucial for conserving cryogenic fluids, maintaining critical life support, and enabling proper thermal control for sensors and instruments used in missions,” the proposal added. “Target applications include exploration and operations missions to the moon, Mars, Venus and other missions requiring longer durations.”

The proposal summaries follow.

Proposal Title:
Flexible Radiator (FlexRAD)

Subtopic Title:
Thermal Management

Small Business Concern
Paragon Space Development Corporation
Tucson , AZ

Principal Investigator
Chad Bower

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 2
End: 3

Technical Abstract

Paragon proposes development of Flexible Radiator (FlexRAD) technology for integration with inflatable habitats. A pumped fluid loop radiator is composed of the fluid loop tubing which carries coolant for heat exchange, facesheets which provide extended surface area for radiative heat rejection, and inlet and outlet manifolds to connect individual sets of tubing.

For a radiator to be functional materials and manufacturing methods must efficiently support heat transfer via convection with the coolant, conductive heat transfer through the facesheet, and radiative properties that allow for heat rejection while preventing insolated surfaces from absorbing to much energy.

FlexRAD is a system where rigid components are replaced with flexible soft goods to create a radiator that will fully integrate with existing inflatable structures and takes advantage of the full range of benefits afforded by flexible structure.

FlexRAD provides a flexible radiator solution that will be able to balance thermal and structural performance while providing unique deployment capability. FlexRAD will provide a net mass and cost savings compared to traditional radiators because FlexRAD will launch in a stowed configuration not subject to launch accelerations and vibro-acoustics, reducing the amount of supporting structure needed for launch.

In addition to easy integration with inflatable habitats, FlexRAD offers improved opportunities to take advantage of multifunctional system integration (e.g., adding Micro-Meteoroid and Orbital Debris protection). FlexRAD is expected to thermal performance on par with existing aluminum radiators, including achieving a fin efficiency of 0.85 and radiative optical properties consistent with current state of the art.

Potential NASA Applications

The FlexRAD target market for space applications is long duration human spaceflight exploration missions and other spacecraft using a single loop ATCS. Fully realized, FlexRAD can be integrated into near-term NASA and commercial human space exploration missions of LEO, the Moon, the Deep Space Gateway, Mars, and beyond. FlexRAD can be optimized for gravity-based surface habitats or microgravity transit vehicles.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

The top vendors in the global space habitat market include Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, NanoRacks, Orbital ATK, SNC, and ULA. Potential commercial NASA customers for FlexRAD technology includes these vendors plus smaller entities such as AXIOM. Paragon already has relationships in place with these companies. SNC and ULA have expressed interest in FlexRAD and provided letters of support for Paragon’s development efforts that can be provided upon NASA request.

Proposal Title:
Condensate Separator for MIcrogravity Conditions (COSMIC)

Subtopic Title:
Thermal Management

Principal Investigator
Thomas Cognata

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technical Abstract

Paragon Space Development Corporation (Paragon) proposes the development of an advanced COndensate Separator for MIcrogravity Conditions (COSMIC). COSMIC is a full flow condensate separator designed to separate condensate from air effectively and with low power use. This technology employs Paragon’s unique and robust, low power liquid separation technology that has heritage in and has been demonstrated as highly effective by Honeywell in the Two-Phase Extended Evaluation in Microgravity (TEEM) flight experiment.

This technology satisfies NASA’s needs as described in SBIR topic Z2.01; NASA is interested in advanced heat exchangers and coldplates that leverage novel manufacturing techniques to minimize structural mass and provide a good thermal performance, corrosion resistance, a reliable 3-year minimum life not contaminated by microbial growth, and whose coating does not impact the life support water recovery system.

COSMIC is intended to replace the Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) slurper and water separator ORU. Currently the ISS CCAA CHX, slurper, and water separator are intended to condense/remove excess moisture from cabin air. Issues arise because slurper behavior is dependent upon a liquid film wetting the CHX and slurper. This behavior requires a hydrophilic surface. The presence of siloxanes on the ISS has degraded the hydrophilic CCAA CHX coating driving surfaces to behave hydrophobically.

COSMIC addresses these issues by improving the means of separation so that it may occur independently of surface wetting behavior. COSMIC introduces no additional pressure drop, requires no additional flow, provides head to the separated vapor stream, is potential drop-in hardware, harnesses proven technology in microgravity, and introduces little parasitic power draw. COSMIC is an independent technology but may be paired with Paragon’s Silver-plated Condensing Heat Exchange for Microgravity Environments (SCHEME) technology.

Potential NASA Applications

Spacecraft thermal management is necessary and COSMIC enables missions by increasing system safety and performance, reducing system mass, and increasing system reliability. These technologies are crucial for conserving cryogenic fluids, maintaining critical life support, and enabling proper thermal control for sensors and instruments used in missions. Target applications include exploration and operations missions to the moon, Mars, Venus and other missions requiring longer durations.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

COSMIC can be adapted to a variety of coolants and put to use in space, Naval, Air, and Ground systems with equal effectiveness. Commercial companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Orbital are key targets as well commercial companies as the COSMIC technology can be used for two-phase separation for any sized coolant loop or used for condensate removal from any system presented with a humid air stream.