The Vacuum Impregnation Process for Extraterrestrial Realization (VIPER) payload seeks to advance process development for Vacuum Pressure Impregnation (VPI) on-orbit to enhance power generation equipment manufacturing techniques. The VPI process increases dielectric strength of an electrical assembly while enhancing thermal insulation properties and mitigating potential catastrophic issues caused by Foreign Object Debris (FOD) in the system. Expansion of power systems on orbit benefits colonization efforts in space, maturing motor generator manufacturing processes that impact fluid management and safe operation of habitats. Whether energy needs are localized to a craft or developed on a grid, the ability to originate assemblies that are powered by or provide power to other components in space reduces reliance on terrestrial deliveries. Enhanced fabrication capabilities in space diminish launch risks, with delivery missions acting in the logistics chain for material resupply purposes. VIPER fosters increased self-reliance of space-based processes through advancement in the VPI procedure that enhances power generation development by supplementing current on-orbit pursuits while opening new opportunities for support technologies.
VIPER is a support technology for current NASA hybrid additive and subtractive manufacturing pursuits, building a commercial need for hybrid products that help to validate business cases for fabrication in microgravity while acting as a predecessor technology for motor generator system assembly. Scientific advancements from VIPER inform manufacturing techniques for powder metal additive, casting, and thermal protective shield development for space-based operations.
VIPER utilizes a well-developed terrestrial process with increased complexity due to microgravity. Expertise in the VPI process is applicable in all environments, allowing industry to quickly inject commercial cases for the technology. VPI is just one procedure in development of power generation equipment, ushering in industry development opportunities in processes for power generation in space.