IIR document

The -80°C freezer for the International Space Station.

Author(s) : CHEGANÇAS J.


The MELFI (Minus Eighty degrees Celsius Laboratory Freezer) for the International Space Station (ISS) has been developed under a European Space Agency (ESA) contract for NASA. The Brayton technology used to provide the cold power has been very critical to develop but was finally proven to be very efficient on orbit. The first flight unit is on board the ISS since July 2006 and provides four cold storage volumes for all biological experiments requiring temperatures from ambient to -97°C. The three main temperatures commonly used are 4, -26 and -80°C. A second flight unit is waiting at NASA for a possible launch before the Space Shuttle retirement scheduled by 2010. The MELFI was initially designed to return to Earth every two years to bring the samples down. The period on ground was also for maintenance. The Shuttle early retirement has imposed an extension of the MELFI life on orbit up to seven or eight years. This extension will require some adaptations on the existing maintenance concept. Finally, the MELFI being the only freezer in orbit for biology, the scientific needs require an enlargement of the functioning domain by having more than one storage volume at 4°C. This domain will impose assessing and eventually updating the laws for the temperatures control, even though the MELFI has already proven its flexibility. This paper explains how the challenges faced to put the first freezer in space have been overcome and how the flexibility of the selected design has allowed adapting for all the mission requirement changes since the last 10 years.

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Pages: ICR07-A1-976


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  • Original title: The -80°C freezer for the International Space Station.
  • Record ID : 2007-1900
  • Languages: English
  • Source: ICR 2007. Refrigeration Creates the Future. Proceedings of the 22nd IIR International Congress of Refrigeration.
  • Publication date: 2007/08/21


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