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.
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.
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.