NASA Goddard Cryogenics Group

Liquid/Gas Phase Separators for the Superfluid Helium On-Orbit Transfer (SHOOT) Project

J. G. Tuttle/Hughes STX Corp.; M. J. DiPirro, and P. J. Shirron/GSFC
Code 713
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Maryland

Three different types of liquid/vapor phase separator were used on the Superfluid Helium On-Orbit Transfer (SHOOT) project, a shuttle attached payload designed to demonstrate the technology required to resupply liquid helium dewars in space. One of the devices, known as the low flow phase separator, separated both liquid He-I and He-II from their vapor. It was used to cool the liquid helium after launch to approximately 2.3 K and also as a low rate vent on orbit to maintain operating temperature. It was made of high purity copper disks held apart by 6 micron Kevlar fibers. The disks conducted heat from within the dewar to vaporize the liquid as it was throttled on its way out to the vent. The second device phase separated He-II at high flow rates. It was made of sintered stainless steel, and it took advantage of the thermomechanical effect in superfluid helium to keep the liquid in the dewar. It was used to cool the liquid from about 2.3 K to its 1.4 K operating temperature. The third phase separator was the thermomechanical pump used later to transfer superfluid helium. It was used along with the low flow device below about 2.8 K to shorten the overall pumpdown time. We discuss the development of the low flow phase separator and the laboratory testing and flight performance of all three devices.

Advances in Cryogenic Engineering 39 (1994) 121.

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