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As we explore and reach farther out into the cosmos, what will we do with all of our trash?
For astronauts aboard the International Space Station, storage space is extremely valuable and limited — but even astronauts have garbage. In addition to taking up precious space, this garbage creates potential physical and biological health and safety hazards for the astronauts. On the space station, astronauts currently squeeze their garbage into trash bags and, for temporary periods of time, store up to 2 metric tons of trash on board. They then send the trash out on commercial supply vehicles, which either reach Earth or burn up in reentry.
Space - Trash - Disk - Example - Trash
This space trash disk was made by heating and compressing a sample example of trash that astronauts could produce. These disks are being tested for possible use in shields guarding against space radiation.
In an effort to ensure astronaut safety and find an improved trash solution, NASA has sent out a call to U.S. companies to create prototype compactors and trash-processing systems. The agency is looking for innovative designs that could not only compact trash but also remove hazardous components, and process and remove pieces that could then be repurposed or recycled.
Resources - Space - Station - Mission - Resupply
Resources are limited on the space station, and they would become even more so on a deep-space mission with no resupply. So, NASA is hoping that this technology will also be able to help astronauts reuse materials more effectively.
Proposals that look to fill this void will have a variety of NASA...
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