Suborbital Testing of the OSCAR Trash-to-Gas System



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51st International Conference on Environmental Systems


With the sustained human exploration of nearby celestial bodies on the horizon, a renewed outlook on waste management must be realized. Current waste management strategies aboard the International Space Station become impractical as we venture further away from low Earth orbit and the resources that can be extracted from waste streams are substantial. One method of combatting this issue is by thermally degrading solid and liquid crew waste items into a chemically inert, ventable gas stream, a process known as Trash-to-Gas. The Orbital Syngas/Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR) is the state-of-the-art Trash-to-Gas system which has been designed to explore microgravity Trash-to-Gas concepts for improved mass/volume reduction and resource recovery from waste. OSCAR is a subscale testbed design that supports the NASA Logistics Reduction (LR) project under the Advanced Exploration System (AES) Program and Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) Flight Opportunities Program to determine the feasibility of Trash-to-Gas technology for use on future long duration space missions. OSCAR has flown on two suborbital flight demonstrations aboard Blue Origin�s New Shepard launch vehicle. This paper presents an overarching comparative analysis of these microgravity test campaigns with 1g laboratory experimentation. Percent gasification, product gas composition, soot and water production, reactor temperature and pressure, trash injection methodology, and system automation are compared to highlight the operational discrepancies within the microgravity environment for future optimization. The OSCAR system design progression and up-to-date lessons learned are also discussed for consideration into follow-on human spaceflight mission architectures.


Ray Pitts, NASA Kennedy Space Center, US
Anne Meier, NASA Kennedy Space Center, US
Joel Olson, NASA Kennedy Space Center, US
Malay Shah, NASA Kennedy Space Center, US
David Rinderknecht, NASA Kennedy Space Center, US
Jaime Toro Medina, NASA Kennedy Space Center, US
ICES304: Physio-Chemical Life Support- Waste Management Systems- Technology and Process Development
The 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US, on 10 July 2022 through 14 July 2022.


Trash Management, Resource Recovery from Waste, ECLSS Consumable Production, Suborbital Flight Testing, Combustion, Trash-to-Gas, Space Waste Conversion