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Pacific Design Technologies has a long history of participation on space programs, having provided Mechanically Pumped Fluid Loop (MPFL) systems and components for three robotic missions to Mars and two experimental platforms on the International Space Station. In addition, PDT has been selected to supply MPFL hardware for the Mars 2020 mission by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. PDT has also designed and produced unique circulation pumps for use with ultra-pure water for future space-based fuel cell power systems. The critical material, cleanliness, reliability and quality challenges associated with long duration space missions are familiar territory for the Pacific Design Technologies team. The following are a sample of PDT’s active and past programs in the space market.


Europa Clipper

PDT was selected to provide one flight set plus spares of hardware for the Europa Clipper mission, currently under development by NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory. PDT’s equipment consists of an integrated pumping system with three redundant fluid loops, each with two pumps and two thermal valves. The system is designed for a 15-year mission life to support the objective of mapping the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Launch is scheduled for 2024.

Mars Science Laboratory and Mars 2020

PDT provided three pump packages for each of these missions, including the Rover Integrated Pump Assembly which is installed in both the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers. These three components circulate liquid coolant to maintain critical electronics on board the spacecraft and rover within a tight temperature range. The use of a Mechanically Pumped Fluid Loop (MPFL) system for this mission allows the spacecraft designers greater flexibility in component placement and reduces overall power consumption compared to traditional electric heating systems. Both missions (and their PDT pumping units) continue to operate far beyond their design life; more than 11-years for Curiosity and 2 years for Perseverance. 

AMS-02 Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer

In service on the International space station since May 19, 2011, the AMS-02 Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector is being used by an international team to evaluate high energy cosmic rays for evidence of dark matter, antimatter and other phenomena that cannot be detected by traditional telescopes. For this important science project, PDT provided a set of Mechanically Pumped Fluid Loop (MPFL) hardware which is used in a unique thermal control system to maintain the temperature of the sensitive detectors which are at the heart of the AMS-02 instrument.

Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) Demonstrator

PDT provided a set of pumps and accumulation aircraft solutions to NASA-Goddard Flight Center that were used for on-orbit demonstrations of advanced robotic satellite refueling technologies. The Robotic Refueling Mission is a multi-phased technology demonstration program using the unique platform of the International Space Station to test tools, technologies and techniques to refuel and repair satellites in orbit.

Mars Exploration Rovers and Mars Pathfinder

The success of the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) and the Mars Pathfinder (Sojourner) provided the technical foundation which facilitated the implementation of the larger and more capable Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) program. For both programs, PDT provided an Integrated Pumping Unit which was used during the seven month transit from Earth to Mars to maintain temperature control of sensitive spacecraft electronic systems.