Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2021

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Sandra K.S. Boetcher

Committee Co-Chair

Rafael Rodriguez

First Committee Member

Patrick Currier

Second Committee Member

Rafael Rodriguez


Today, the exploration and exploitation of space continues to become a more common occurrence. All types of spacecraft (S/C) utilize various types of thermal management solutions to mitigate the effects of thermal loading from the unforgiving vacuum of space. Without an appropriately designed thermal system, components on-board the S/C can experience failure or malfunction due to fluctuations in temperatures either beyond the designed operational parameters or unstable oscillating temperatures. The purpose of this study is to perform a comprehensive review of technologies available today that are being used for thermal management onboard S/C in addition to investigating the means to analyzing the environment allowing the establishment of a design methodology that would support the development of efficient and effective future spacecraft thermal control systems. A combination of thermal solutions are investigated that would best assist onboard components in maintaining operable thermal ranges. Modern day methods of analyzing and understanding these environments were looked at to provide an insight as to what may be available for both the new and experienced developer. Analytical methods varied, dependent on a reference point, but the outcomes were similar in that the primary concern of heat loading in space is radiative heating from internal and external sources. Numerically, industry has continued to find new ways of understanding environments prior to launch whether it be through analytical estimation or numerical tools. Thermal control solutions consisted of coatings, insulation, heat pipes, phase change material, conductive materials, thermal devices, actively pumped fluid loops, radiators, and combinations of these systems. With numerous technologies identified, a series of charts were created to provide comparatives among the various aspects of selection guiding the start of design. Lastly, utilizing the knowledge gained from such a wide-net review of thermal control solutions available today, both in space and terrestrially, a design methodology was established.