Controlling the level of temperature of equipment, payloads, satellites and launchers is essential during all phases of a space mission to protect flight hardware and to guarantee the optimum performance and success of the mission.
What is the Thermal Control domain?
Thermal control is what allows maintaining the satellite‘s (or another space system) temperatures within set parameters during its lifetime. For instance, a piece of equipment could, if encountering a temperature level which is too high, be damaged or its performance could be severely affected. In space it would hardly be possible to correct such a problem and this is why space thermal control systems – like other space subsystems – need to be properly designed and tested and need to be very efficient and highly reliable. Thermal control is also what keeps the specified temperature stability for delicate electronics or optical components so as to ensure that they perform as efficiently as possible.
Thermal control for space applications covers a very wide temperature range, from the cryogenic level (down to -270 deg C) to high-temperature thermal protection systems (more than 2000 deg C).
The thermal control subsystem is one of the most visually distinctive elements of a space system, composed of distinctive foil-like insulation blankets and white-painted or mirror-like radiators.
Last update: 30 October 2012