NASA is seeking “proposals for trade studies and design, fabrication, and testing of critical components and subsystems for acquisition and processing of extraterrestrial resources into water, oxygen, and fuel.”
The broad agency announcement (BAA) came in an appendix to the space agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships 2 (NextSTEP-2) program, which has been working with commercial companies on facilitating space exploration and development beyond Earth orbit.
NASA is seeking proposals “using technologies and processes that leverage and support space or terrestrial commercial activities,” the announcement states.
“In-Situ Resource Utilization involves collecting and converting local resources into products that can reduce mission mass, cost, and/or risk of human exploration and lead to independence from Earth that would be required for more sustained human presence in deep space,” NASA says.
“While NASA has analyzed and developed ISRU component and subsystem technologies for several decades, many of the technologies and systems are still immature, do not meet collection and processing rates needed for sustained human exploration, and/or have not been operated for long durations under relevant mission environmental conditions,” the space agency adds.
“Primary products of interest are water from lunar and Mars regolith-based sources; oxygen from Mars atmosphere carbon dioxide; and ...