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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

The World is Not Enough (WINE): Harvesting Local Resources for Eternal Exploration of Space

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

The World is Not Enough (WINE): Harvesting Local Resources for Eternal Exploration of Space, Phase I
The paradigm of exploration is changing. Smaller, smarter, and more efficient systems are being developed that could do as well as large, expensive, and heavy systems in the past. The 'science' fiction becomes reality fueled by advances in computing, materials, and nano-technology. These new technologies found their way into CubeSats – a booming business in the 21st century. CubeSats are no longer restricted to aerospace companies. Universities and even High Schools can develop them. The World is Not Enough (WINE) is a new generation of CubeSats that take advantage of ISRU to explore space for ever. The WINE takes advantage of existing CubeSat technology and combines it with 3D printing technology and a water extraction system developed under NASA SBIR, called MISWE . 3D printing enables development of cold gas thrusters as well as tanks that fit perfectly within the available space within the CubeSat. The MISWE allows capture and extraction of water, and takes advantage of the heat generated by the CubeSat electronics system. The water is stored in a cold gas thruster's tank and used for propulsion. Thus, the system can use the water that it has just extracted for prospecting to refuel and fly to another location. This replenishing of propellants extends the mission by doing ISRU (living off the land) even during the prospecting phase. In Phase 1, we plan to test and investigate critical technologies such as (1) sample acquisition, (2) volatiles capture, and (3) 3D-printed cold gas thrusters that use water vapor including the organic and particulate contaminants that are inevitable during the early stages of asteroid mining. The engine is similar to a Solar Thermal Engine but scaled for a CubeSat. In Phase 2, we propose to develop a testbed of the critical systems and to demonstrate these onboard the International Space Station (ISS). More »

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