NASA Seeks Prototypes for Deep Space Trash Handling

The agency issued the solicitation through Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement, Appendix F: Logistics Reduction in Space by Trash Compaction and Processing System.

NASA has issued a call for prototypes for trash compaction and processing systems for future spacecraft flights. The agency issued the solicitation through Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement, Appendix F: Logistics Reduction in Space by Trash Compaction and Processing System.

Currently, astronauts on the International Space Station handle trash by squeezing it into trash bags, storing nearly two metric tons of it for a short, temporary period of time, and then sending it away on a departing commercial supply ship to either be returned to earth or incinerated during atmospheric reentry. In the future, spacecraft may not have the option of disposing of trash via visiting commercial trips, so NASA is seeking solutions in order to conserve storage inside spacecraft and eliminate physical and biological hazards posed by storing trash.

In Phase A of development, selected companies will create a concept for trash compaction and processing, hold design reviews with NASA, and validate concepts through demonstration of prototypes. During this phase, companies may request to conduct subsystem tests on NASA facilities. Phase B entails development of a flight unit to demonstrate a system aboard the space station as soon as 2022.

Responders are required to show 20 percent contribution, minimum, (10 percent for small businesses) toward the overall development cost. NASA plans to host an industry day July 24 to share details and answer questions. Proposals are due August 22, 2018. 

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