NASA has selected two proposals for the development of oxygen (O2) recovery technologies that could help astronauts breathe easier in deep space, long-duration missions.

The agency will invest up to $2m and 24 months for the development of each proposal into a complete and integrated system for NASA testing.

The selected proposals are:

  •  Phase II Methane Pyrolysis System for High-Yield Soot-Free Recovery of Oxygen from Carbon Dioxide -Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix
  • Continuous Bosch Reactor – UMPQUA Research Co. in Myrtle Creek, Oregon

Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington, commented, “The development of advanced life support technologies will allow NASA to establish improved capabilities for future deep space, long-duration, human exploration missions.”

“The selected proposals represent the best value to the agency and strong investments for STMD,” he continued.

The state-of-the-art system currently used on the International Space Station recovers about 50% of the O2 from exhaled carbon dioxide (CO2). The remaining O2 required for crew respiration is transported to the station from Earth. For long-duration missions beyond low-Earth orbit, resupply of O2 becomes economically and logistically prohibitive. To mitigate these challenges, NASA’s Next Generation Life Support Spacecraft Oxygen Recovery project element is targeting development of technology to increase the recovery of O2 to 75% or more, thereby reducing the total O2 resupply required for future missions.

These awards are managed by the Game Changing Development (GCD) program within STMD. NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, manages the GCD program. The GCD program is funded by STMD, which is responsible for developing the cross-cutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.