Graphite Fiber Thermal Straps (GFTS®)
The World's Only Flexible Graphite / Carbon-Based Strap with Spaceflight Heritage
TAI provides the world's only flexible graphite fiber thermal straps / links (GFTS®). GFTS® assemblies are the space industry's standard for lightweight, high conductance, flexible thermal straps, and TAI alone has the GFTS® spaceflight heritage required by NASA, JAXA, and ESA.
Unlike Graphene Composite Sheet Links and Pyrolytic Graphite Sheet (PGS) Links offered by TAI and others, GFTS® assemblies have spaceflight heritage, have been extensively space qualified, and do not tear / are not catastrophically damaged by simple mishandling or typical vibration and shock profiles associated with launch and operational use. They also weigh in at just a small fraction of the mass of equivalent copper rope, or metallic foil thermal straps, yet GFTS® program and flight model (FM) unit costs are the same as competing metallic foil straps, and more affordable than any other graphene composite or graphite strap available. Further, TAI manufactures dozens to hundreds of GFTS® prototype, protoflight, and Flight Model (FM) units each year, and is currently filling orders for 3rd and 4th follow-on orders of FM straps for spaceflight programs and hardware like the ORION program, and the integrated stellar-inertial attitude determination system (STARMU) products developed by Honeywell International, for pointing and stabilization in space/satellite systems.
Though graphite/carbon thermal straps / "thermal shunts" / "thermal cables" have been studied since the late 1960's, TAI alone, perfected and fabricates the only graphite fiber thermal strap products. We began research on, and built our first GFTS® in 1995, and were later awarded USAF SBIR Ph I and follow-on Ph II programs (in 1996 & 1997), to further develop GFTS® and thermally-conductive vibration isolation technology for cryocoolers.
TAI's GFTS® assemblies not only have spaceflight heritage; they have been subjected to (and successfully passed), some of industry's most grueling qualification/test requirements ever applied to thermal strap products (see our spaceflight qualification data table at the bottom of the page).
GFTS® have been used in a variety of advanced thermal management applications, both space and ground-based, in areas such as: antennas, satellite electronics boxes, radiators, cryocoolers, optics systems, cryogenic refrigerator compressors, communication & radar power electronic systems, and electromechanical systems. Our GFTS® products have flown--or will be launching soon--on the following programs:
- NASA's ORION Spacecraft - Launched December 2015. TAI designed and assembled dozens of GFTS® assemblies (for NASA, Ball Aerospace, and Lockheed Martin), for the Data Acquisition Systems and Phased Antenna Arrays on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. TAI is still filling follow-on FM orders for ORION at present.
- JAXA's ASTRO-H (Hitomi) - Launched February 2016. TAI designed and assembled dozens of GFTS® assemblies for JAXA, for PC-B Compressors, and cryocoolers on ASTRO-H.
- Numerous Department of Defense Satellite Programs (Program Names Withheld) - Launched in 2016, and others set for launch in 2017 - 2019. TAI is currently filling follow-on FM orders for multiple programs.
- ESA & NASA's Spectral Imaging of the Coronal Environment (SPICE) instrument (on Solar Orbiter) - Launches 2018. TAI designed and assembled multiple straps to cool chips and other components.
- Boeing's CST-100 Commercial Crew Vehicle - Launches in 2018. TAI designed and assembled over 100 prototype and FM GFTS® assemblies for the crew module battery system.
- NASA JPL's GRACE-FO - Launches in 2018. TAI designed assembled prototype and FM GFTS® assemblies.
- DLR's EnMAP - Launches in 2019. TAI designed and assembled prototype and FM GFTS® assemblies for the SWIR detectors.
- GPS III - Launches in 2018. TAI designed and assembled numerous prototype and FM GFTS® assemblies for Honeywell and other prime contractors on the program.
- Ball Aerospace's GEMS UV-VIS Spectrometer (GEO-KOMPSAT-2B Satellite) - Launches 2018. TAI designed and assembled protoflight GFTS® assembly to provide mechanical decoupling with heat pipe.
- TAI has also provided prototype and FM GFTS® assemblies for several other customers including: OHB, Thales Alenia, Selex, CSA-Moog, Toshiba, NRL, L-3 and others.