In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) involves any hardware or operation that harnesses and utilizes ‘in-situ’ resources (natural and discarded) to create products and services for robotic and human exploration. ISRU encompasses a broad range of systems, and is typically divided into six focus areas: Resource Assessment, Resource Acquisition, Resource Processing/Consumable Production, In Situ Manufacturing, In Situ Construction, and In-Situ Energy. ISRU products and services can be used to reduce Earth launch mass or lander mass by not bringing everything from Earth, reduce risks to the crew and/or mission by reducing logistics, increasing shielding, and providing increased self-sufficiency, or reduce costs by needing less launch vehicles to complete the mission and/or through the reuse of hardware and lander/space transportation vehicles. Since ISRU can be performed wherever resources may exist, ISRU technologies and systems may need to operate in a variety of environments and gravities, and may need to consider a wide variety of potential resource physical and mineral characteristics. This year’s solicitation will focus on critical technologies needed in the areas of Resource Acquisition and Consumable Production for the Moon and Mars. The ISRU focus area is seeking innovative technology for:
- Solar Concentrators
- Oxygen Extraction from Lunar Regolith
- Lunar Ice Mining
- Propellant Recovery
- Relaxed Propellant Grade Specification
- Chemical Flow Cells
As appropriate, the specific needs and metrics of each of these specific technologies are described in the subtopic descriptions.