Thermal Design Considerations for Future High-Power Small Satellites



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48th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Small satellites have helped expand access to space, advance scientific exploration, and reduce mission costs. Future small satellites will continue this trend; however, power limitations of traditional architectures restrict advanced capabilities and performance. Fortunately, recent developments (e.g. deployable solar arrays) are leading the way for high-power small satellite systems. Although this provides numerous benefits, there are significant challenges. Of these, mitigating increased heat loads in small architectures is substantial.

An overview of thermal design envelopes for high-power small satellites will be provided. This will include a discussion of power limitations for a wide-range of micro-, nano-, and picosatellite architectures. This discussion will lead the way for thermal design considerations that includes heat acquisition, transport, and dissipation details. Finally, a case study of how these techniques can be applied will be provided.


Derek Hengeveld, LoadPath
Jacob Moulton, LoadPath
Mike Wilson, LoadPath
Brent Taft, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory
Andrew Kwas, Northrop Grumman Technology Services


high power, small satellite, thermal design