Plant Research Using Automation

For over 30 years, NASA has been doing the research necessary to develop self-sustaining life support by studying crop growth systems. The ability to grow plants at high volume in space will lead to mass production of space-grown produce that will gradually replace Earth launched food supplies. Ideally, this will provide a cheaper, healthier, and tastier food source for astronauts.

Read More
TransAstra Mini Bee

TransAstra was one of two groups awarded the first ever NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase III grant. TransAstra will use the Phase III funds to advanced its first flight demonstration mission of the Mini Bee asteroid mining concept. The Mini Bee spacecraft will be about 250 kg in size, and will test the optical mining concept in a space environment using a synthetic asteroid launched from Earth. The CI-type asteroid simulant will be made by the Florida-based company Exolith Labs using leftover materials from Deep Space Industries before they shut down. Expected to launch in the early 2020s, this will be the first time water is extracted from material similar to asteroids while in space.

Read More
Earth Independence

Dr. Doug Plata from The Space Development Network hosted a two part session on Earth independence. This involves the idea of reducing a future space colony's dependence on importing essential goods from Earth for survival. Independence from Earth can only be achieved via in-situ resource utilization, which is the process of converting local resources into required goods. Until this happens, any future space colony will be dependent on shipments from Earth for survival.

Read More
“Don’t drink the water!” - Toxic Elements Found in Meteorites

A science team led by Alessondra Springmann found that heating up various types of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites released water as well as other volatile and toxic trace elements. Water is likely one of the very first resources that will be sourced from space for use in space. It is versatile for a variety of applications, including rocket propellant, consumption by astronauts, and bulk radiation shielding.

Read More
Made In Space Interferometer

In-space manufacturing promises to be a key driver for developing space resource technologies. Building and assembling large structures in space allows the use of efficient designs that don’t require robust structures for the one time g-force requirements of launch. Made In Space has recently proposed a long-baseline interferometer that uses in-space manufacturing techniques for assembling opposing booms up to 50 m (164 ft) in length from a 24U small-sat chassis.

Read More
Water on Itokawa and Processing It

Water has been directly observed from two samples returned from the S-type asteroid Itokawa. It was hypothesized that S-type asteroids contained low concentration water bearing minerals due to light curve data and studying similar minerals on Earth. However, the two Itokawa samples contained high concentrations of water at 698 and 988 parts per million weight, respectively. This holds great promise for asteroid processing targets if similar S-type asteroids have similar water concentrations.

Read More
Lunar Polar Ice Everywhere, but Only on Surface

An international team of Chinese, American, and Russian scientists may have conducted the most extensive study of lunar Permanently Shadowed Region (PSR) ice yet performed. By comparing the reflections from flat surfaces in major PSRs to those of adjacent non-PSRs, they determined that the vast majority contain ice. However, the ice appears to be restricted to the uppermost surface.

Read More
Why the Lunar South Pole?

NASA was recently directed to return to the Moon by 2024, an announcement first made in remarks given by Vice President Mike Pence at the 5th meeting of the National Space Council on March 26th. However this huge announcement and acceleration in schedule also came with another set of exciting details. He stated, the “lunar South Pole holds great scientific, economic, and strategic value” and that “when the first American astronauts return to the lunar surface, that they will take their first steps on the Moon’s South Pole.” But why the focus on the Moon’s south pole? He explored that as well, saying that we will “mine oxygen from lunar rocks” and “use nuclear power to extract water from the permanently shadowed craters of the South Pole”. These statements are exciting because they specifically include the use of in-situ resource utilization on the Moon, and select human landing locations near the South Pole due to proximity to those resources.

Read More
Adam Hugomoon, nasa, isru, water, topComment