NASA Is Trying To Extract Oxygen From Space Rocks So Future Astronauts Can Breathe

NASA Is Trying To Extract Oxygen From Space Rocks So Future Astronauts Can Breathe

NASA is seeking input from the lunar and scientific communities on how to convert lunar soil and other natural compounds into oxygen, and is taking steps to prepare for future long-term occupation of the lunar surface.

The country’s main space organization is announcement On Monday, comments will be sought on In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technology. In this case, that means using materials found on the moon, mostly lunar dust, to produce fuel, oxygen, water, and other resources that humans might use. Or consume. These processes may one day allow humans to enjoy a sustainable existence on the Moon and other planets without having to shuttle resources to and from Earth.

NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) regarding ISRU technology. This will allow NASA to formally begin gathering information from outside parties for the Future Lunar Infrastructure Fundamental Technology Demonstration, also known as LIFT-1. LIFT-1 could be considered the cornerstone of the next phase of America’s occupation of the moon, his official NASA designated program to return Americans to the moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.

A NASA press release states, “Additional goals for LIFT-1 may include demonstrating new landing techniques, surface operations, and scalable power generation in the lunar south pole region.” . “NASA is seeking input from the lunar community via RFI to inform an integrated approach that includes demonstration of launch, landing, and surface infrastructure technologies as part of a subscale ISRU demonstration.”

One of the many problems that stands in the way of human occupation of the Moon, or anywhere else beyond Earth, is that it would be extremely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to bring in enough resources for everyone. No matter how you slice it, launching a rocket ship from Earth costs millions of dollars, and each pound on board increases the cost tremendously. Therefore, without ISRU technology, long-term space occupation is not practical or feasible.

NASA leadership said the development of ISRU technology is critical to the longevity of astronauts and their equipment, and the possibility of someday creating a permanent human habitat on the moon and beyond.

“To enable a sustainable existence far from Earth, it is essential to harness on-site resources. We need supplies and infrastructure to live and work on our home planet. “Similar support systems will be needed on the lunar surface for crews and robots to operate safely and productively,” said Prasun Desai, acting deputy administrator for space technology. says Dr. Mission Directorate at his NASA Headquarters in Washington.

NASA has already shown off certain ISRU technologies, most notably the Mars Perseverance Rover, which successfully converted atmospheric carbon dioxide into usable oxygen on April 20, 2021. This is the small device MOXIE installed in the. This type of transformation is useful on planets with atmospheres like Mars. Rich in carbon dioxide. But because the moon has virtually no atmosphere, scientists will need to develop techniques to extract oxygen from naturally occurring minerals underground, according to NASA.

NASA has already made several investments in ISRU technology in its exploration, mining, and mining efforts, as well as some outstanding academic and industry partnerships, but the RFI issued Monday Applications are being accepted until the 18th and are specifically seeking information on chemical processes that can: Harness resources from lunar dust and soil.

“Development of chemical and thermal processes may provide options for breaking down natural minerals and compounds found on the Moon and converting them into propellants and human consumables,” the press release states. There is. “Other potential long-term applications could lead to the fabrication of extraterrestrial metals and the construction of lunar structures using resources found on the moon.”

Another representative of NASA leadership said in a written statement that while the idea of ​​harnessing oxygen and other available resources from the ground has long been theorized, the idea could soon be used for real space travel. He said that there is a possibility that

“The ISRU technology demonstration approach has been a topic of discussion within the Lunar Innovation Initiative and consortium community for several years,” said Niki Werkhiser, director of technology maturation at STMD. “This RFI of his is the next step in making that happen.”

You can find LIFT-1 RFI here Responses will be accepted until December 18th at 5pm EST. moreover. Sponsored by NASA industry forum Monday, November 13th at 1pm ET.

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