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In-Situ Resource Utilization for Space Exploration: Resource Processing, Mission-Enabling Technologies, and Lessons for Sustainability on Earth and BeyondAs 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 twenty-five years, beginning 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 non-terrestrial 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.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Hepp, A. F.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Palaszewski, B. A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Landis, G. A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Jaworske, D. A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Colozza, A. J.
(Vantage Partners, LLC Brook Park, OH, United States)
Kulis, M. J.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Heller, Richard S.
(Sandia National Labs. Albuquerque, NM, United States)
Date Acquired
April 27, 2015
Publication Date
July 28, 2014
Subject Category
Fluid Mechanics And Thermodynamics
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference(Cleveland, OH)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 203950.04.02.04
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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