With the launch of ATSR-1 on ERS-1 in July 1991, long life closed cycle cryocooler technology, supplied by STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, was first achieved in space. Since that time STFC has remained at the forefront of the state of the art and our coolers have underpinned a large variety of high profile scientific and operational missions; ranging from space exploration and the origins of the Universe, to Earth observation, climate change and weather forecasting.
Ongoing development has resulted in a range of mechanical cryocoolers covering temperatures from less than 2K to more than 150K. The proven success and reliability of this technology has placed the cryocoolers as one of the key enabling technologies as ambitions in space evolve. We have licensed the technology to UK and US aerospace industries; the resulting 50-80K product is the most successful European cooler ever to have flown, with more than 130 accumulated years in orbit with no mechanical failures to date.
Life and reliability is guaranteed by our flexure bearing suspension technology which maintains a non-contact, non-lubricated, clearance of 10µm between the moving parts. One life-test cooler has been operated at 40Hz for 19 years (>2.3E+10 cycles) in the laboratory and others have been in operation in orbit for a similar length of time.
Contact: Cryogenics and Magnetics Group
Tel: 01235 445146