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Thermal Management for Aircraft, Spacecraft and Satellites

Thermal control and heat rejection for aerospace and avionics is more challenging than ever, thanks to advances in space electronics (miniaturization, complexity and integration), and the emergence of more-electric-aircraft (MEA) concepts that make cooling more difficult. Aavid Thermacore thermal management solutions involve an innovative blend of heat pipe, loop heat pipe and advanced solid conduction technologies to provide efficient and low mass thermal solutions.

Heat Pipes

satellite with heat pipe TCSHeat pipes for aerospace applications from Aavid Thermacore have been used for thermal management on some of the most important aircraft and satellites in recent years, including the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), NASA spacecraft and the Navy Windcat Microwave Radiometer Satellite.

Since 1970, Aavid Thermacore has delivered thermal solutions to hundreds of companies including BAE Systems, Boeing, DRS, General Dynamics Land Systems, Harris, Honeywell, L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, United Technologies and many others. These prime contractors have turned to Aavid Thermacore for expert engineering design (concept generation and analysis), development (prototype and validation) and production thermal solution components and systems including advanced solid conduction, passive two-phase heat transfer (heat pipe, loop heat pipe) and liquid cooling solutions (cold plates, aluminum vacuum brazed assemblies), among others. Aavid Thermacore’s products are at work in a variety of applications where thermal performance, size, mass and mechanical integrity are critical factors in meeting demanding performance requirements.

Aavid Thermacore heat pipes include Constant Conductance (CCHP) axially grooved, copper-water and Variable Conductance (VCHP) heat pipe systems — ideal for integration into the radiator panels of satellite thermal control subsystems. Aavid Thermacore and our radiator panel supplier partners can provide these heat pipes embedded in a structural honeycomb panel.

Advanced Solid Conduction

To augment satellite radiator panels, Aavid Thermacore's k Technology division provides advanced solid conduction technology for efficient thermal management without moving parts. This extends the capabilities of satellite radiator panels through specialty engineered designs involving copper or aluminum heat sinks.

moon mapper APG thermal managementAdvanced solid conduction solutions from Aavid Thermacore have helped the Mars Rover make new discoveries, and will be at work in the new Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), a state-of-the-art high-spectral resolution imaging spectrometer designed to characterize and map the mineral composition of the moon.


Aavid Thermacore contributions to this technology include:

Space Radiator

  • Aluminum Encapsulation
  • .05 in. thick radiators; .01 in. thick Annealed Pyrolytic Graphite (APG) insert
  • Conductivity of the radiators: > 460 W/mK
  • Density of each radiator: < 2.6 g/cm3

Copper Encapsulated APG Thermal Straps

  • Thermal conductivity up to 1,000 W/mK
  • Density: < 4.0 g/cm3
  • Low bending stiffness — formable material
  • Provides conduction path to the radiators

Loop Heat Pipes

aerospace heat pipe thermal solutionAerospace heat rejection, using radiator panels that can be stowed for launch and then deployed in orbit, requires high-performance, extra-efficient thermal technology. Increasingly, Aavid Thermacore loop heat pipes are the answer, meeting the challenge of cooling a higher concentration of satellite electronics with a limited surface area.

Loop heat pipes offer effective heat removal over long distances without sensitivity to gravity. These unique passive two-phase heat transfer systems give you several key advantages:

  • Bendability
  • Flexibility
  • Routability
  • Can operate as thermal diodes to prevent backward heat leak
  • Capable of transporting and rejecting heat loads from hundreds of watts to more than 2,000 W
  • Stand up to demanding conditions (e.g., Navy, Air Force and NASA testing for thermal performance; high-g spin; flex fatigue; shock/vibration and freeze/thaw)

Loop heat pipes often feature multiple evaporators to accommodate dispersed heat sources and passive/active thermal regulation.

Improving Efficiency and Protecting Sensitive Electronic Systems


  • Actuator-mounted electronics cooling
  • Wing and cowl anti-icing using engine waste heat
  • Avionics cooling
  • F-16 targeting pod
  • Passive anti-icing
  • Integrated High Performance Turbine Energy Technology (IHPTET)
  • Leading Edge
  • Joint Strike Fighter
  • 787


  • Stirling Orbiter Refrigeration/Freezer (SOR/F)
  • Loop heat pipe flight experiment
  • Timeband Capture Cell Experiment (TICCE)
  • Geosynchronous Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer (GIFTS)
  • Unfurlable heat pipe for lunar radiator
  • SP-100
  • Prometheus
  • Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO)

Specialized Applications

  • Lunar Radiator/NASA
  • Niobium rocket nozzle
  • Laminate metal/ceramic composite
  • On-chip cooling and Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) matching

Many of the technologies involved in thermal solutions for aerospace and avionics are also valuable in military applications. These thermal technologies include:

  • Cold plates
  • Heavy-duty heat pipe assemblies
  • Liquid cooling systems
  • Vapor chambers


Thermal management challenge? Take the first step towards the solution for you. Please contact an Aavid Thermacore technical representative or e-mail for more information on our thermal solution technologies.

Since 1970  •  AS 9100  •  ISO 9001 Certified  •  DDTC/ITAR Registered • AAVID Corporate
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