Electra's Large Deployable Cooling Radiator Passes Deployment Test on Ground

The Electra deployable thermal radiator (DTR) has successfully passed its deployment test, simulating the in-orbit deployment of the large thermal radiator panel that significantly increases the payload heat rejection capability of OHB’s all-electric Electra satellite.

Electra is an ESA ARTES Partnership Project developing a fully electric propulsion geostationary spacecraft that helps European industry in expanding their product lines and competing in the rapidly evolving satcom market.

The use of all-electric propulsion frees precious space and mass on the telecom satellite to increase the amount of telecommunication payload that can be carried on the satellite. This reduces launch costs, but also requires increased heat dissipation capabilities stretching beyond the capabilities of traditional fixed radiator panels.

The deployable thermal radiator, developed, manufactured and recently tested by IberEspacio in Spain, solves this dilemma by expanding the radiating surface with a 2.5 square meters deployable Aluminium honeycomb panel that is folded against the satellite body during launch.

Once in orbit, the panel is released and deployed by 180 degrees away from the satellite and a set of flexible heat-pipes transport heat from the payload to the deployed radiator panel, where both faces can radiate heat to space.

The first flight-model of the deployable thermal radiator (DTR) has passed successfully the deployment test in the cleanroom of IberEspacio. For this test the radiator and its mechanisms are offloaded by a large helium balloon, simulating the zero-gravity environment in space. The sequence of releasing the hold-down mechanisms and driving the panel into its final deployed position is executed to validate on ground the design and manufacturing of the DTR.

The video shows the setup with the balloon, the release and the graceful motion of the DTR until it arrives in the final deployed position, away from the satellite.

The DTR will go through thermal cycling and performance tests before delivery to Electra’s satellite prime OHB System.

Published 13 December 2021
Last updated at 20 January 2022 - 10:32