In-Space Propellant Production Using Water

William Notardonato, Wesley Johnson, Adam Swanger, William McQuade
2012 AIAA SPACE 2012 Conference & Exposition   unpublished
A new era of space exploration is being planned. Manned exploration architectures under consideration require the long term storage of cryogenic propellants in space, and larger science mission directorate payloads can be delivered using cryogenic propulsion stages. Several architecture studies have shown that in-space cryogenic propulsion depots offer benefits including lower launch costs, smaller launch vehicles, and enhanced mission flexibility. NASA is currently planning a Cryogenic
more » ... a Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer (CPST) technology demonstration mission that will use existing technology to demonstrate long duration storage, acquisition, mass gauging, and transfer of liquid hydrogen in low Earth orbit. This mission will demonstrate key technologies, but the CPST architecture is not designed for optimal mission operations for a true propellant depot. This paper will consider cryogenic propellant depots that are designed for operability. The operability principles considered are reusability, commonality, designing for the unique environment of space, and use of active control systems, both thermal and fluid. After considering these operability principles, a proposed depot architecture will be presented that uses water launch and on orbit electrolysis and liquefaction. This could serve as the first true space factory. Critical technologies needed for this depot architecture, including on orbit electrolysis, zero-g liquefaction and storage, rendezvous and docking, and propellant transfer, will be discussed and a developmental path forward will be presented. Finally, use of the depot to support the NASA Science Mission Directorate exploration goals will be presented. Nomenclature llV change in velocity required to traverse between two different locations in space Nrefills number of times a rocket stage is refueled I sp specific impulse g 0 gravitational constant m 0 initial vehicle mass m1 final vehicle mass Q ref refrigeration power QHr thermal heat load
doi:10.2514/6.2012-5288 fatcat:rlfd7lwttveyrpg52nn3wkytjq