Browse Publications Technical Papers 2002-01-2476
2002-07-15

Considerations in Selection of Solid Waste Management Approaches in Long-Duration Space Missions 2002-01-2476

Solid Waste Management (SWM) systems of current and previous space flight missions have employed relatively uncomplicated methods of waste collection, storage and return to Earth. NASA's long-term objectives, however, will likely include human-rated missions that are longer in both duration and distance, with little to no opportunity for re-supply. Such missions will likely exert increased demands upon all sub-systems, particularly the SWM system.
In order to provide guidance to SWM Research and Technology Development (R&TD) efforts and overall system development, the establishment of appropriate SWM system requirements is necessary. Because future long duration missions are not yet fully defined, thorough mission-specific requirements have not yet been drafted. Several critical issues must be examined prior to development of requirements including: mission-specific waste characterization; operational and microbial safety requirements; planetary protection constraints; resource recovery needs; and requirements and constraints on integration with other sub-systems.
This paper will provide an overview of issues regarding the SWM functions of acceptance, transport, processing, storage, disposal, and monitoring and control and will also examine issues concerning the major SWM design drivers listed in the previous paragraph. It is the intent of this paper to provide information to aid in the development of waste management requirements. Additionally, knowledge gaps will be identified and discussed to provide guidance in R&TD decision-making.

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