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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 andor 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
Technical Memorandum (TM)
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, R. S.
(Sandia National Labs. Albuquerque, NM, United States)
Date Acquired
December 23, 2015
Publication Date
December 1, 2015
Subject Category
Energy Production And Conversion
Man/System Technology And Life Support
Report/Patent Number
AIAA Paper 2014-3761
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum 2014
Location: Cleveland, OH
Country: United States
Start Date: July 28, 2014
End Date: July 30, 2014
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 392259.02.03.1188.15
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Specific impulse
Carbon dioxide
In situ resource utilization
Nuclear propulsion
Carbon monoxide
Sabatier reaction
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