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RESEARCH PAPERS

Radioisotope Power-Generating System for a Manned Space Laboratory

[+] Author and Article Information
A. Duane Tonelli, Edward P. Regnier

Secondary Power Systems Section, Life and Environmental Systems Branch, Research and Development, Douglas Aircraft Company, Santa Monica, Calif.

J. Eng. Ind 88(2), 129-141 (May 01, 1966) (13 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3670903 History: Received January 20, 1965; Online December 08, 2011

Abstract

The results of a Douglas sponsored study of radioisotope secondary power-generating systems for space applications are presented. The study results are applicable to various space vehicles and missions requiring 4 kw or more of electrical power. The first generation of manned vehicles where a radioisotope power system is potentially applicable include the Extended Apollo and MOL type earth-orbiting laboratories. For this reason, the study results were applied to selecting a radioisotope power system for a small manned orbiting laboratory. The laboratory considered is capable of being launched in the post-1968 time period by a Titan 3C booster. An argon Brayton cycle, Dowtherm A Rankine cycle, and thermoelectric systems were investigated as possible secondary power systems capable of generating 4 kw of electrical power for the vehicle subsystem. Tradeoffs in weight, radiator-area requirement, development risk and isotope availability and cost were performed for the various systems. On the basis of the tradeoffs and the 4-kw design load, the argon Brayton cycle system was recommended.

Copyright © 1966 by ASME
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