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Need to Know

NASA Explores Technologies to Manage Waste in Space

space station
NASA is asking companies to demonstrate technologies and prototypes for trash compaction and processing.

Managing waste and recyclables can be difficult on land, but it can be even more difficult in space due to storage challenges. To overcome these challenges, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is gearing up to send humans far into space via its new Space Launch System and Orion capsule, is exploring technologies that can manage waste and recyclables both effectively and efficiently.

Currently, the crews on spacecrafts receive supplies in the form of cargo resupply missions—as much as 12,000 kilograms of cargo is delivered each year. And in an effort to free up some of the space on the spacecrafts, the crews send their waste back down to land on the resupply vehicles. This system, which removes some of the waste, has its flaws, and while crews on smaller missions may be able to deal with the shortage of space on the spacecraft, crews on longer missions will likely not be able to give up precious space for waste.

International Business Times has more information:

NASA is calling American industry experts to develop technologies that could effectively manage trash on future deep space missions to the moon and beyond.

The agency wants to fly humans farther than ever before and has already started working on the vehicle and spacecraft for the project — the Space Launch System and Orion capsule. However, executing a mission like that also demands effective techniques for handling trash, which can easily create major storage challenges during a spaceflight.

The International Space Station (ISS) best explains this case. The orbital lab flies some 400km above ground level, and the crew living on it regularly receives supplies from the space agency in the form of cargo resupply missions. These launches, conducted with the help of partners like SpaceX, take science experiments and items for day to day survival into space.

Read the full story here.

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