Shell Heaters & Condensation Control in a Composite Vehicle



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50th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Sierra Nevada Corporation is currently developing the Dream Chaser� spaceplane, a reusable, composite structure design which will fulfill a services contract with NASA to resupply the International Space Station with launch availability opening in late 2021. The carbon composite primary structure of the spacecraft greatly reduces structural mass, which allows Dream Chaser additional cargo capability. A major subsystem of this spacecraft is the Thermal Control System (TCS), including both an active cooling loop and several passive elements, which together maintain the thermal environment of the vehicle throughout all mission phases. The active loop maintains the temperature of components within operational ranges, while the passive system prevents condensation formation within the pressurized cabin interior of the vehicle. Unlike metallic vehicle structures which leverage greater thermal conductivity and standard resistive heaters to mitigate condensation, controlling condensation within a composite vehicle requires unique solutions. The TCS team has developed an actively heated �false wall� system to mitigate cabin condensation on the composite structure. The false wall system is composed of individual �shell heater pillows� which combine insulative and active heating methods to balance power, mass, and volumetric constraints. This paper provides an overview of the overall Dream Chaser Condensation Control Plan and specifically the implementation of the shell heater pillows.


Adrian Doan, Sierra Nevada Corporation
Cheryl Perich, Sierra Nevada Corporation
Michael Erdmann, Sierra Nevada Corporation
ICES103: Thermal and Environmental Control of Exploration Vehicles and Habitats
The 50th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held virtually on 12 July 2021 through 14 July 2021.


Thermal Control System, Condensation Control, Shell Heaters, Spaceplane