ISRU Technologies to Support Human Space Exploration 2004-01-2315
In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) is an important part of current mission architectures for both a return to the Moon and the eventual human exploration of Mars. ORBITEC has developed and demonstrated an innovative direct energy processing approach for carbon-reduction of lunar and Martian regolith that can operate in a nearly closed-loop manner. Carbon-reduction of regolith produces oxygen and a variety of other useful products, including silicon, iron and glass ceramic materials. In addition, various ISRU propulsion technologies that utilize lunar and Martian resources have been developed and demonstrated. Work is also being conducted with the USDA on techniques to use biomass and waste materials to manufacture items such as shelters, furniture, filters and paper. Atmospheric carbon dioxide on Mars would be used to support the production of biomass in excess of life support needs to be used as the raw material to manufacture useful products on-site.