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Integration of Thermal Control Electronics and Monitoring Functions in a Multifunctional Structure

Journal Article
ISSN: 1946-3855, e-ISSN: 1946-3901
Published July 12, 2009 by SAE International in United States
Integration of Thermal Control Electronics and Monitoring Functions in a Multifunctional Structure
Citation: Cascioli, V., Battiston, R., Gottero, M., and Sacchi, E., "Integration of Thermal Control Electronics and Monitoring Functions in a Multifunctional Structure," SAE Int. J. Aerosp. 4(1):567-576, 2011,
Language: English


In several industrial fields, the integration of functions is a key technology to enhance the efficiency of components in terms of performance to mass/volume/cost ratio. Concerning the space industry, in the last few years the trend in spacecraft design has been towards smaller, light-weight and higher performance satellites with sophisticated payloads and instrumentation. Increasing power density figures are the common feature of such systems, constituting a challenging task for the Thermal Control System. The traditional mechanical and thermal design concepts are evidencing their limits with reference to such an emerging scenario. A promising solution consists in designing structural elements of a spacecraft that can integrate multiple functions: the capability of realizing a high level of integration of the different subsystems (typically structural strength, thermal control, electronics and shielding) into a multifunctional structure (MFS) seems to represent an enabling technology in order to respond to the growing demands of present and future space missions. The MFS concept is based on an efficient use of advanced composite materials and components, on innovative solutions for integrated design, dedicated modeling and simulation tools as well as advanced assembly/manufacturing approaches.
Following past experience in this field, partially financed by the EC FP6 MULFUN project and described in [Gottero 1], a research program on the development of lightweight high-performance multifunctional structures has been established by Thales Alenia Space Italia (TAS-I) in cooperation with the University of Perugia (Italy). Aim of the study is the integration of thermal control, electrical and diagnostic functions into a unique high-performance structure. A demonstrator named Advanced Breadboard (ABB) was conceived with a high-performance Carbon/Carbon sandwich panel and an integrated electronic board, made with Polyimide flex circuits technology. The electronic board controls a temperature monitoring subsystem. The monitoring subsystem is a Dallas USB/1-Wire bus interface that is able to read a chain of temperature sensors distributed throughout the panel with a single flat cable with two copper strips. A DC/DC converting subsystem feeds three heaters directly integrated on the flex circuit.
The integration of ABB is currently under completion. Recent advances in the research, including drivers and details of the ABB design and results from the integration and testing of a preliminary breadboard, are reported in the paper, with emphasis on thermal aspects.