Data from a NASA payload investigating a new method for dealing with trash in space has researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida excited following the Aug. 26 flight test on Blue Origin’s 17th New Shepard mission.
By Elizabeth DiVito NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program
VAN HORN, Texas — While there won’t be humans on Blue Origin’s 17th New Shepard mission, the fully reusable launch vehicle will carry technologies from NASA, industry, and academia aboard. The agency’s Flight Opportunities program supports six payload flight tests, which are slated for lift off no earlier than Aug. 26 from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas.
For some innovations, this is just one of several tests supported by NASA on different flight vehicles. Iterative flight testing helps quickly ready technologies that could eventually support deep space exploration.
KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — New Shepard’s next mission will fly a NASA lunar landing technology demonstration a second time on the exterior of the booster, 18 commercial payloads inside the crew capsule, 11 of which are NASA-supported, and an art installation on the exterior of the capsule. Liftoff is currently targeted for Wednesday, August 25, at 8:35 am CDT/13:35 UTC from Launch Site One in West Texas. Live launch coverage begins at T-30 minutes on BlueOrigin.com.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The Orbital Syngas Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR) underwent thermal testing on Jan. 26 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The tests are preparation for a scheduled suborbital flight test later this year facilitated by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program.
The testing ensures that the thermal environment of the payload won’t create additional hazards during flight and that OSCAR can successfully operate within the temperature range it may encounter as it performs tests in microgravity.
Begun as an Early Career Initiative project, OSCAR evaluates technology to make use of trash and human waste generated during long-duration spaceflight – specifically, how to convert waste into useful gases such as methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. By processing small pieces of trash in a high-temperature reactor, OSCAR would reduce the amount of space needed for waste storage within a spacecraft and ensure waste is no longer biologically active.
Another potential benefit is making in-flight maneuvers more efficient by reducing trash mass on the spacecraft. Further development could allow astronauts to turn some waste into gases that have propulsive energy storage and life support applications.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — When you think about what astronauts do in space, you probably don’t picture them taking out the trash.
As NASA prepares to return astronauts to the Moon and then venture to Mars, a lot of planning goes into how to keep crews safe and healthy and enable them to do as much science as possible. One of the challenges is how to handle trash. The Orbital Syngas/Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR) project, is an avenue to evolve new and innovative technology for dealing with garbage in space.