In-Situ Resource Utilization for Space Exploration: Resource Processing, Mission-Enabling Technologies, and Lessons for Sustainability on Earth and Beyond

Aloysius F. Hepp, Bryan A. Palaszewski, Anthony J. Colozza, Geoffrey A. Landis, Donald A. Jaworske, Michael J. Kulis
2014 12th International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference   unpublished
As humanity begins to reach out into the solar system, it has become apparent that supporting a human or robotic presence in transit and/or on station requires significant expendable resources including consumables (to support people), fuel, and convenient reliable power. Transporting all necessary expendables is inefficient, inconvenient, costly, and, in the final analysis, a complicating factor for mission planners and a significant source of potential failure modes. Over the past 25 years,
more » ... ginning with the Space Exploration Initiative, researchers at the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC), academic collaborators, and industrial partners have analyzed, researched, and developed successful solutions for the challenges posed by surviving and even thriving in the resource limited environment(s) presented by near-Earth space and nonterrestrial surface operations. In this retrospective paper, we highlight the efforts of the co-authors in resource simulation and utilization, materials processing and consumable(s) production, power systems and analysis, fuel storage and handling, propulsion systems, and mission operations. As we move forward in our quest to explore space using a resource-optimized approach, it is worthwhile to consider lessons learned relative to efficient utilization of the (comparatively) abundant natural resources and improving the sustainability (and environment) for life on Earth. We reconsider Lunar (and briefly Martian) resource utilization for potential colonization, and discuss next steps moving away from Earth. Sabatier exothermic reaction that reduces CO2 with molecular H2 to CH4 and H2O SBIR Small Business Innovative Research Program syn-gas synthesis gas: H2/CO gaseous mixture, typical ratio is 2-3:1 ΔV Delta-V is related to the relative velocity needed to change trajectories WTE waste-to-energy technologies
doi:10.2514/6.2014-3761 fatcat:nkurrgrqqvfqjdjzrfnxzaw2aq