Aluminum Thermal Straps and Finite Element Analysis

News and Flight Heritage

Thermotive in the Air, in Space, and on the Ground

At Thermotive, we are honored to collaborate with national and international aerospace companies, labs, space agencies, and academic and research institutions to develop innovative thermal management solutions for aerospace applications. Our hardware is on the ground, in the air, and in space. In addition, our patent-pending Pyrovo™ Pyrolytic Graphite Film Thermal Straps now have flight heritage and are recognized as the best thermal straps in the world.

Along with many others, Thermotive has delivered hardware to the projects/customers listed below:


Other/Undisclosed Applications:

  • The Aerospace Corporation
  • Elbit Systems sensors
  • Israel Aerospace Industries
  • Iris Technologies
  • DRS Technologies: Sensors &Targeting Systems - Leonardo
  • Honeywell
  • JPL-Matisse
  • Pyramid Space Inc
  • USAF
  • Telspan Data
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • ARGUS: Green Bank Telescope
  • COMAP: Owens Valley Radio Observatory
  • Australian Astronomical Observatory -- Instruments on the Anglo-Australian Telescope
  • Advanced, on-site, and portable military radiation detector
  • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
  • Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope: Bombolo -- Project QUIMAL
  • Intel Corp -- Scanning Electron Microscope application



Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) on the International Space Station

Thermotive designed, fabricated, and tested custom thermal hardware for the STP-H5 Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS). The LIS, designed by the The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Global Hydrology Resource Center DAAC, and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, launched on Feb 19th, 2017 aboard the SpaceX CRS-10 (SPX-10) on the Falcon 9 rocket and was mounted to the International Space Station (ISS). We are thrilled to have our hardware on such a valuable scientific instrument and honored to ride on the International Space Station.

LIS on the International Space Station No automatic alt text available. LIS at Johnson Space Center
The LIS is visible in this photograph of the ISS. The STP-H5 (Space Test Program-Houston 5) payload package in located in the upper left, in front of a solar panel. The LIS is at the bottom of the STP-H5, pointing toward Earth.
Credit: NASA
Thermotive’s copper and aluminum hardware is visible on the back of the camera of the completed instrument. It stabilizes the temperature of the optical detector.
Credit: UAH
The LIS at NASA Johnson Space Center.
Credit: NASA

For more information, visit http://thunder.nsstc.nasa.gov/data/query/mission.png.

NASA Deep Space Atomic Clock

Thermotive hardware is on NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock project! In February 2017, it was joined to the Surrey Orbital Test Bed spacecraft that will take into orbit in late 2017.

Developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the DSAC project will fly and validate a an ultra-precise, mercury-ion atomic clock that is orders of magnitude more stable than today’s best navigation clock, as well as smaller and lighter than any other atomic clock flown in space, forever changing the way we conduct deep-space navigation. The clock will make use of GPS signals to demonstrate precision orbit determination and confirm its performance, promising new savings on mission operations costs, delivering more science data and enabling further development of deep-space autonomous radio navigation.

DSAC DSAC Thermotive hardware DSAC
Tom Cwik, head of JPL's Space Technology Program (left) and Allen Farrington, JPL Deep Space Atomic Clock Project Manager, view the integrated Atomic Clock Payload on Surrey Satellite US’s Orbital Test Bed Spacecraft.
Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology
The Atomic Clock, GPS Receiver, and Ultra-Stable Oscillator which make up the Deep Space Atomic Clock Payload, following integration into the middle bay of Surrey Satellite US’s Orbital Test Bed Spacecraft.
Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology
Thermotive hardware is visible on the DSAC.
Credit: NASA

For more information about the DSAC, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/clock/index.html.


Thermotive delivered custom hardware for ASTERIA (Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics), a 6U CubeSat that will operate in low-Earth orbit. ASTERIA’s goal is to advance the state of the art in CubeSat capabilities for astrophysical measurements by achieving arcsecond-level line of sight pointing error and highly stable focal plane temperature control. Precision thermal control is achieved by isolating the payload from the spacecraft bus, passively cooling the detector, and using trim heaters to perform small temperature corrections over the course of an observation. Thermotive’s hardware supports this thermal control system. A collaboration between JPL and MIT, ASTERIA is scheduled to launch and deploy this summer. It measures roughly 10x20x30 cm and weighs 12 kg.

Artist rendering of ASTERIA in orbit.
Credit: NASA

To learn more about JPL's ASTERIA CubeSat, visit https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cubesat/missions/asteria.php.

Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) NASA-JPL

In late 2016, Thermotive's Pyrovo™ pyrolytic graphite film (Pyrovo™ PGF or PPGF) thermal strap replaced a heat pipe in an electronics cooling application. PPGF straps are high conductivity, flexible, light weight, compact and freeze tolerant. In fact, they have about 30% higher conductivity near 200K (-73°C) as compared to room temperature.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, or OCO-3, is a future space instrument designed to investigate important questions about the distribution of carbon dioxide on Earth as it relates to growing urban populations and changing patterns of fossil fuel combustion. It will dock to the International Space Station; launch date TBD.

To learn more about JPL's OCO-3, visit https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/orbiting-carbon-observatory-3-oco-3/.

High Profile Earth-Orbiting Military Satellites

Thermotive recently delivered thermal control hardware used in advanced optics, vibration isolation, and thermal managment of satellite control equipment on two high profile, Earth-orbiting military satellites. The nature of the projects and our non-disclosure agreements do not allow us to dislose details.

Advanced Commercial Rockets

Thermotive has provided Pyrovo™ PGF thermals straps designed for the most advanced commercial rockets in the world.

MARS Landing and Exploration

In late 2016 and 2017, Thermotive delivered Pyrovo™ PGF thermals straps for various applications on NASA's Mars 2020 rover. They are currently being tested. We are honored, but not surprised, by the selection of Pyrovo™ PGF thermal straps. Based on the combination of conductivity, flexibility, cleanliness, and mass, these are the best in the world. Over short heat paths, they are now replacing heat pipes in cooling sensitive electronics and optics because of their reliability, wide operating range, flexibility, and freeze tolerance.



Multiangle SpectroPolarimetric Imager (MSPI), a high altitude airborne scientific instrument, on the NASA ER-2

Thermotive hardware is on NASA's ER-2 High-Altitude Airborne Science Aircraft. Our hardware helps maintain tight thermal control on the Multiangle SpectroPolarimetric Image (MSPI) camera. The optical detectors on this camera are very sensitive to temperature changes. The ER-2 can fly more than twice as high as commercial aircraft (over 60,000 feet) where the air temperature is -60C (-75F), so high that that the pilot must wear a pressurized suit. The ER-2 is NASA's scientific version of the U2 spy plane! We are honored to have collaborated with the AirMSPI team at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

No automatic alt text available. MSPI
Pilot in an ER-2 wearing a pressurized suit. Left: Pressure vessel and cylindrical drum housing the AirMSPI camera. Right: AirMSPI installed in the nose of the ER-2. The instrument is visible protruding below the fuselage.
Credit: NASA-JPL

For more information about AirMSPI, visit http://airbornescience.jpl.nasa.gov/instruments/airmspi.

Columbia University & California Institute of Technology (CalTech) Faint Intergalactic medium Red-shifted Emission Balloon (FIREBall-2)

A cooperative effort between Columbia University, New York; California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; France's Laboratorie Astronomie Marseille and its space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). The experiment seeks to discover and map faint emission from the Inter Galactic Medium.

Thermotive hardware Fireball-2 instrument SuperBIT Telescope
Thermotive delivered copper and aluminum thermal straps for the FIREBall-2 instrument. Thermotive hardware is visible on the instrument. The Bit telescope is pictured.
Credit: Univ. of Toronto



ARGUS on the Green Bank Telescope

Thermotive is pleased to announce that our hardware is integrated into the Green Bank Telescope’s Argus focal plane array for millimeter spectroscopy! Argus, a collaboration between Stanford U., Caltech, JPL, the Univ. Maryland, Univ. Miami, and the Green Bank Observatory, is now ready for shared-risk science observations on the Green Bank Telescope. It is a 16-pixel spectrometer whose front end is designed to be scalable, so that the array design can be configured for future instruments with hundreds of pixels. ARGUS is a collaboration between Caltech, Stanford University, JPL, University of Maryland and University of Miami.

For more information about ARGUS and the Green Bank Telescope, visit http://greenbankobservatory.org/argus.

COMAP - the CO Mapping Array Pathfinder - at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory

Thermotive delivered hardware to the University of Miami (Dr. Josh Gunderson). The high conductance copper thermal straps will eventually go on the Owens Valley Radio Observatory's CO Mapping Array Pathfinder (COMAP)! COMAP will use carbon monoxide (CO) lines to trace the distribution of star-forming galaxies in the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) and the Epoch of Galaxy Assembly. Phase I of COMAP comprises a 10.4-m telescope, located at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO), equipped with a 19-pixel, dual polarization spectrometer array that will map a total of 10 square degrees of sky in the frequency range 26-34 GHz. In addition COMAP will study galactic anomalous microwave emission, a form of emission likely produced by spinning dust grains, which was first discovered two decades ago at OVRO. The project, whose design and fabrication is currently led by Caltech, is a collaboration between Caltech, Stanford University, JPL, University of Maryland and the University of Miami.

To learn more about COMAP and the OVRO, visit http://www.astro.caltech.edu/CRAL/projects.html.