This article reports the design, the breadboarding, and the validation of an ultrastable cryogenic sapphire oscillator operated in an autonomous cryocooler. The objective of this project was to demonstrate the feasibility of a frequency stability of 3×1015 between 1 and 1000 s for the European Space Agency deep space stations. This represents the lowest fractional frequency instability ever achieved with cryocoolers. The preliminary results presented in this paper validate the design we adopted for the sapphire resonator, the cold source, and the oscillator loop.

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