NASA spends $2mn on ‘advanced life support tech’ for deep space travel

NASA spends $2mn on ‘advanced life support tech’ for deep space travel
NASA has awarded $2 million to two companies for the development of technology that will help astronauts breathe safely in space for longer periods, potentially furthering long distance space exploration.

The projects aim to advance the use of oxygen recovery technology which will convert carbon dioxide back into oxygen. It’s hoped it will help astronauts breathe a little easier in deep space during long missions.

The selected proposals came from Honeywell Aerospace based in Phoenix, Arizona and UMPQUA Research Co. from Myrtle Creek in Oregon.

On the International Space Station (ISS) currently only 50 percent of the carbon dioxide astronauts exhale is recovered and converted back into oxygen. To make up the shortfall NASA has been transporting oxygen to the ISS crew from Earth.

However, this fix becomes increasingly troublesome as astronauts travel deeper into space on longer missions. The new investment will attempt to solve that problem by getting 75 percent of the oxygen crew require back from their exhaled carbon dioxide.

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

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Honeywell Aerospace, a divisions of the Honeywell International conglomerate, is heavily involved in NASA space mission planning and development. It was established in 1914 and has been involved in numerous corporate and military developments including the Manhattan project. UMPQUA Research Co has previously built water disinfection and purification subsystems for the ISS, the Space Shuttle and other projects.