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- Onboard radioisotope power systems being developed and planned for NASA's deep-space missions require reliable design lifetimes of up to 14 yr. The structurally critical heater head of the high-efficiency Stirling power convertor has undergone extensive computational analysis of operating temperatures, stresses, and creep resistance of the thin-walled Inconel 718 bill of material. A preliminary assessment of the effect of uncertainties in the material behavior was also performed. Creep failure resistance of the thin-walled heater head could show variation due to small deviations in the manufactured thickness and in uncertainties in operating temperature and pressure. Durability prediction and reliability of the heater head are affected by these deviations from nominal design conditions. Therefore, it is important to include the effects of these uncertainties in predicting the probability of survival of the heater head under mission loads. Furthermore, it may be possible for the heater head to experience rare incidences of small temperature excursions of short duration. These rare incidences would affect the creep strain rate and, therefore, the life. This paper addresses the effects of such rare incidences on the reliability. In addition, the sensitivities of variables affecting the reliability are quantified, and guidelines developed to improve the reliability are outlined. Heater head reliability is being quantified with data from NASA Glenn Research Center's accelerated benchmark testing program.
- Document ID: 20050041955.
Space Technology and Applications International Forum (STAIF-2004); 9-12 Feb. 2004; Albuquerque, NM; United States.
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