slide04E1-quest.png

Integrated MLI Technology Demonstration Mission

Press Release by Ball Aerospace, 2015

Quest Thermal Group and Ball Aerospace infused our patented, proprietary Integrated Multilayer Insulation next generation MLI into the NASA/Ball Green Propellant Infusion Mission.

NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) has been selected to test an advanced form of thermal insulation, called integrated multi-layer insulation (IMLI) that could become standard on future satellites and cryogenic subsystems. Validating this new insulation in space will help NASA build the technology required for long human spaceflight missions. Under a subcontract from Ball Aerospace, Quest Thermal Group LLC manufactured the new insulation that will fly aboard the GPIM mission.

High performance insulation materials are required on spacecraft and cryogenic space systems to maintain consistent spacecraft and subsystem temperatures in the space environment to keep them operating longer and more efficiently.

"Flying IMLI aboard GPIM is a win--win for the program" said Jim Oschmann, vice president and general manager for Ball's Civil Space and Technology business unit. "Conventional insulation was necessary for the GPIM spacecraft, and now we can fly a section of the IMLI at no extra cost to the program and prove it for operational use.      Image credit Ball Aerospace.

The new IMLI offers many benefits to conventional insulation. By utilizing rigid spacers instead of netting to separate radiation layers, it is structurally more robust, lighter and easier to install. It also has a nearly 30 percent thermal performance increase over conventional multi-layer insulation; the IMLI's increased thermal capability is critical for minimizing heat transference and boil-off of cryogenic storage systems.

The IMLI manufacturer, Quest, a small company located in Arvada, CO, developed the technology under small business innovative research (SBIR) contracts with NASA.

"Utilizing a small business to innovate a new product and adding it to the GPIM mission demonstrates the synergy between all of the Space Technology project offices to develop and infuse technology into the market," added Oschmann. "Our collaboration on GPIM further enables NASA to demonstrate another critical technology needed to make future space missions safer, more efficient and more cost effective."

GPIM is a project for NASA's Technology Mission Demonstration (TDM) program managed by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). The primary purpose of the mission is to demonstrate the viability of an alternative propulsion system for spacecraft other than hydrazine by flying a "green" propulsion system on a Ball-built small satellite.

Ball Aerospace was awarded the contract from NASA to lead a government-industry team in the demonstration of an alternative fuel option for future space vehicles. The Ball team will develop and fly the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) to demonstrate a high-performance, non-toxic fuel alternative to conventional hydrazine. The mission will demonstrate and characterize the functionality of an integrated propulsion system to bridge the gap between technology development and actual use of green propellant in space.

Ball Aerospace is the prime contractor for the GPIM along with team co-investigators from the Aerojet Corporation, the Glenn Research Center, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, with additional mission support from the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Kirkland Air Force Base and NASA's Kennedy Space Center. GPIM is a Technology Demonstration Mission under the leadership of NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT).

“Ball is well known for innovative technology solutions and proud to be in partnership with OCT to advance space technology,” said David L. Taylor, Ball Aerospace president and CEO. “This mission brings together a government-industry team from multiple agencies to develop a fully domestic green propellant solution for the next generation of space flight.”

The GPIM purpose, by employing green fuel alternatives, is to reduce environmental impact and operational hazards, and improve launch processing capabilities. While the current use of hydrazine is efficient, the fuel is highly toxic and dangerous to transport. The GPIM demonstration will provide the aerospace community with a new system-level capability for future missions using a green alternative.

===========================================

See the website section under Products > Integrated Multilayer Insulation for more detailed information on IMLI and its performance. 

Quest Thermal can help design and custom engineer IMLI for specific needs, including desired heat flux, insulation thickness, mass, micrometeoroid/orbital debris protection, electrical continuity, among many properties.  IMLI has 50% lower heat flux per layer over conventional MLI, is a rugged, bonded up structure, and offers predictable, repeatable thermal performance.