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Logistics Reduction: Universal Waste Management System (LR-UWMS)

Completed Technology Project
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Project Description

UWMS with Integration Hardware for use on ISS

The objective of the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Logistics Reduction (LR) project's Universal Waste Management System (UWMS) task is to develop a compact toilet system that can be used across multiple future crewed vehicles and habitats. The UWMS effort will result in a toilet with reduced mass and volume that provides increased crew comfort and performance. A key feature of the UWMS is the urine pretreatment dose pump/pretreatment quality indication device which enables water recovery from urine. The UWMS core hardware is primarily funded by the AES LR project, with cost sharing from the Orion (MultiPurpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV)) Program for a second flight unit, and the ISS Program for ISS-unique hardware and integration hardware for flying the first UWMS unit on ISS.

Procurement of the UWMS started late in 2015.  UWMS Integration and ISS planning began in 2015 and continued through 2022 in collaboration with the ISS Payloads Office and the Orion Program.

The UWMS will first serve as an ISS technology demonstration (TD) payload. After the initial AES TD period, the UWMS will remain on ISS for an extended demonstration until the end of ISS life.  The extended demonstration supports increased ISS crew size once US commercial crew vehicles are operational.

The ISS UWMS demonstration will validate the hygienic collection of urine and feces.  Effective collection is critical to maintain crew health and hygiene for long-duration habitats.  Additionally, the ISS TD will demonstrate the ability to pretreat urine and deliver it to the ISS urine processor.  The pretreat pump and pretreat quality sensor are important components of a future long-term space habitat water recovery system. A second UWMS unit was developed to fly on the MPCV Artemis-2 mission.

The project to develop and build two UWMS units is nearing completion. In FY20, the UWMS Unit 1 (ISS) was delivered to NASA-JSC and launched on NG-14 for installation in ISS Node 3.  Installation and checkout have been completed and the team is working technical challenges found during the checkout.    Upon resolution of the technical issues, the unit will then complete the on-orbit technology demonstration to simulate use on Orion’s Artemis missions followed by long duration on-orbit operational testing on ISS.  The completion of these on-orbit performance milestones will represent the final stage of the UWMS baseline contract.  A single filled fecal canister was returned and evaluated on the ground.  This yielded valuable information on crewmember use and provides insight needed  for Orion manifesting of these canisters and the products needed for cleanup.   Additional filled fecal canisters will be returned from ISS for evaluation of compaction efficiency and consumables use to inform future exploration missions.  The AES TD then transitions to the  three-year ISS demonstration. 

In December 2019, the UWMS Unit 2 (Orion) was delivered to KSC and was installed into the Artemis-2 vehicle in March, 2021.  Launch schedule for Artemis-2 is currently in 2024.

The waste management team collaborates with the SBIR program on new technologies related to fecal stabilization and resource recovery, including torrefaction, membrane drying, and ultrasonic drying of feces.  Additionally, the UWMS team collaborates with the MPCV's Launch, Entry, and Abort (LEA) space suit team for contingency urine and fecal waste collection systems.  The LEA suit waste collection system is used if the MPCV loses cabin pressure, but it may be possible to use the LEA contingency system to provide a backup for waste collection if the UWMS became inoperable.

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