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Overview of NASA ISRU Plans, Priorites, and ActivitiesIntroduction:The National Aeronautics andSpace Administration (NASA) of the United States ofAmerica (US) has initiated the Artemis Moon to Marsprogram to send astronauts (the first woman andperson of color) back to the lunar surface, create asustainable human lunar exploration program, andlead the first human exploration mission to the Marssurface in the 2030’s [1]. A major objective of thisprogram is to characterize the resources that exist onthe Moon and Mars, and learn how to utilize them forsustained and affordable exploration. Commonlyknown as In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), thesearch for, acquisition, and processing of resources inspace has the potential to greatly reduce thedependency on transporting mission consumables andinfrastructure from Earth, thereby reducing missioncosts, risks, and dependency on Earth.ISRU is Enabling: Through the extraction andprocessing of resources into mission commoditiessuch as rocket propellants, life support consumables,and fuel cell reactants, ISRU enhances and evolvesthe cis-lunar, lander, and surface transportationsystems required for human exploration; expandingand enhancing HOW humans can explore and returnfrom the Moon. Through the extraction andprocessing of resources into metals, silicon, and othermanufacturing and construction feedstock, ISRUenhances and allows for the expansion of criticalinfrastructure using in situ manufacturing andconstruction capabilities that influence WHAT humanscan do on the Moon and in cis-lunar space. Becauseof this, ISRU supports and enables commercialinvolvement beyond NASA and governmentalagencies by both lowering the cost of sustainedtransportation to/from/on the Moon as well assupporting the market required for needing thesetransportation systems. Strategic Framework:To achieve this vision,NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate(STMD) ensures the coordinated development ofISRU and other critical space and surfaceinfrastructure elements such as propulsion, power,manufacturing, construction, and robotics through theStrategic Technology Architecture Roundtable(STAR) process. Through STAR, an integratedframework and process has been created allowing forcapabilities and technologies to be linked andassessed, gaps to be identified, specifications andmetrics to be established, and provide a means toprioritize and implement technology development andmissions. A critical part of the STAR effort has beenthe establishment of the Strategic Framework thatorganizes all work under four major Thrusts (Go,Land, Live, and Explore) and identifies the drivingOutcomes for each of these Thrusts. From the Thrustsand Outcomes, all work can be categorized and linkedbetween Capability Areas, and Technology Gaps canbe identified and addressed (Figure 1.)Figure 1. Strategic Framework and STAR FrameworkISRU Envisioned Future: To drive thedevelopment of technologies and capabilities, theSTAR process starts with establishing a ‘grand vision’of where each Outcome and Capability is aiming tobe considered complete. For ISRU, the EnvisionedFuture is “Scalable ISRU production/utilizationcapabilities including sustainable commodities on thelunar and Mars Surface”. This involves starting with10’s of metric tons of products, but evolves into 100’sto 1000’s of metric tons of water, oxygen, propellants,construction and manufacturing feedstock, andcommodities for habitat and food production andoperations. For ISRU, the ‘Prospect to Product’philosophy starts with Destination Reconnaissance &Resource Assessment, followed by ResourceAcquisition, Isolation, and Preparation, leading intoResource Processing (which is further subdivided intomission consumables and feedstocks for constructionand manufacturing). The ISRU Envisioned Futurealso considers what resources are available andattempts to address what and when these resourceswill be evaluated and harnessed, as well asconsidering which products/commodities can beobtained for early use and which ones require moretime and/or users of refined products.It Takes an Architecture: ISRU does not existon its own. By definition, it requires customers/users
SHORT TITLE HERE: A. B. Author and C. D. Authorto use the products/commodities produced by ISRUsystems. Also, for an ISRU capability to exist, itmust obtain products and services from other systemsand infrastructure. An important aspect of the STARprocess and the ISRU Envisioned Futures Prioritiesstrategy is to identify and link all of these systems andcapabilities to achieve the desired end state (Figure2).Figure 2. ISRU as Part of a Larger ArchitectureISRU Capability Drivers: The guidingprinciples for NASA’s Space TechnologyDevelopment for Artemis are to develop criticaltechnologies and capabilities that enable (i) asustainable Lunar surface presence, (ii) the future goalof sending humans to Mars, and (iii) promotingcritical technologies to enable future science andcommercial missions. It is a major goal of theArtemis campaign to establish some sort of base campat the lunar South Pole by approximately the end ofthe decade. The ISRU Envisioned Futures Prioritiesstrategy is aligned with the Artemis campaign todevelop and demonstrate ISRU capabilities in thistimeframe that could lead to sustained surfaceoperations, infrastructure growth, and commercialoperations in the next decade (Figure 3).Figure 3. ISRU Dual Path to Full Implementation and CommercializationState of the Art and Gaps: To achieve theenvisioned future, an extensive effort was performedto understand the State of the Art (SOA) for ISRUgoing back decades, and to assess the SOA against thenear and long-term goals and objectives of the ISRUStrategic Outcome objectives. While the releasedISRU Envisioned Futures Priorities only includes atop-level definition of both the SOA and Gaps, furtherinformation on these for ISRU can be found in theISRU Gap Assessment Study performed for theInternational Space Exploration Coordination Group(ISECG) [2]. To provide further guidance to industryand academia, a top level assessment was performedand provide that divides critical areas of ISRUcapabilities and technologies into 3 categories:Significant Funding, Partially Covered/MoreRequired, and Limited/No Funded Activities.Envisioned Future Priorities- Next Steps forISRU: While a significant amount of work over abroad range of technology areas has been performedover the last several years for lunar ISRU, to reach theenvisioned future for ISRU, a lot more work isrequired at the technology level leading to bothsystems and technology demonstrations in the nearfuture. To guide investments within NASA, industry,and academia, 5 specific areas of high priority wereidentified. These are:1.Complete development of the Water and Oxygen Mining Paths and close technology gaps, with emphasis on oxygen extraction from Highland regolith and parallel paths for polar water mining.2.Expand development of metal extraction and feedstock for manufacturing and construction, with emphasis on aluminum and initial/easy to obtain/make construction feedstocks leading to more refined metals and other regolith resources. Also, evaluate biologically inspired/derived technologies in bio-mining, bio-plastic, and other feedstock commodities.3.Ensure the resource assessment needed for future ISRU commercial operations is coordinated with both near/long-term science objectives as well as Artemis mission locations of interest.4.Initiate NASA and industry-led system-level analyses, integration, and testing activities for ISRU capabilities. While significant work has been performed at the technology and subsystemlevel, it is now important to understand how these technology investments can be leveraged and utilized in actual systems and applications5.Initiate lunar ISRU technology flight demonstrations leading to initial ‘Pilot Plant’ end-to-end production capability demonstrations, led by industry
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
G B Sanders
(Johnson Space Center Houston, Texas, United States)
J E Kleinhenz
(Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Date Acquired
May 11, 2022
Subject Category
Space Processing
Meeting Information
Meeting: Space Resources Roundtable
Location: Golden, CO
Country: US
Start Date: June 7, 2022
End Date: June 10, 2022
Sponsors: Space Resources Roundtable
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 600566.01.05
Distribution Limits
Portions of document may include copyright protected material.
Technical Review
NASA Technical Management
In Situ Resource Utilization
Space Commercialization
Lunar Resources
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