Astronaut Doug Wheelock with the Sabatier reactor after it was installed in October 2010. NASA

Private Sector Eyes Deep-Space Business After ISS

By Mark Carreau
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
February 11, 2013

Mark Carreau

Perhaps as much as NASA’s higher-profile commercial crew and cargo initiatives, smaller projects such as UTC Aerospace Systems’ Sabatier Reactor System (SRS) aboard the International Space Station are helping to open new business vistas in space for the private sector.

On a typical day, the reactor, positioned in the station’s Tranquility module with other Environmental Control and Life Support System hardware, combines waste hydrogen from the Oxygen Generating System with CO2 from the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly to produce up to three liters of potable water, according to Darren Samplatsky, UTC Aerospace Systems chief engineer for the device.

In turn, NASA pays the company under the terms of a 2008 contract that specifies up to $65 million in earnings through September 2014—as long as the water is available. Launched in April 2010 on one of the last space shuttle flights and activated by International Space Station (ISS) astronauts the following October, the SRS performs so well after the break-in period that $20 million in potential earnings remain.

“It’s incredibly reliable,” says Marybeth Edeen, deputy manager for the ISS program’s research integration office. “Absolutely, we are interested in continuing beyond 2014.”

Read more: Private Sector Eyes Deep-Space Business After ISS — Aviation Week & Space Technology.

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