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#1 2015-03-09 19:28:59

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
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In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

I am starting this topic as an opensource to pass on to anyone that wants to contribute to making a mission possible as suggested in the quote as well as for anyone that can pull it off for those reading the forum.

Terraformer wrote:

Perhaps come up with a viable design for an ISPP probe mission, and send it to Musk...


Here are links to make use of on the topic, I am sure there are lots more so please add them.

LUNAR/MARS IN-SITU PROPELLANT PRODUCTION (ISPP)TECHNOLOGY: DEVELOPMENT ROADMAP

MARS ISPP PRECURSOR [MIP]: THE FIRST FLIGHT DEMONSTRATION OF IN-SITU PROPELLANT PRODUCTION.

Hybrid Rocket Propulsion and In-Situ Propellant Production for Future Mars Missions

I assume the design is to make a larger system for a human mission from the design.

That the insitu plant is a drop system from what is landed and does not return as part of the demonstrator.

That said I would also think that it should not return empty handed maybe in a cache simular to stardust, Genesis for return should be a sample.

Some of the troubles will be in the EDL mass for mars to keep it small and yet still have a method for earth re-entry after refueling.

Another will be the battle over solar vs RTG or other powering system as whatever does stay on mars surface can not have an impact on the safe return.

Maybe there are other definers that I have not thought about so all suggestions are welcome....

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#2 2015-03-11 19:51:57

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

While looking around I found a simular topic of discussion JoshNH4H created Sample Return with In-Situ Propellant Production

It does contain some of the target requirements to make a mission happen....

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#3 2015-03-12 16:49:43

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

RobertDyck wrote:

Ah, the ISPP Precursor experiment that was supposed to fly on the Mars 2001 lander. But after Mars Polar Lander failed, they delayed launch of Mars 2001 until they found the problem. They did, but then forgot about Mars 2001. Until someone noticed it, and reconfigured it to become Mars Phoenix. The ISPP Precursor and the radiation sensor were removed to make room for new instruments. Curiosity has a radiation sensor. So this mission promises to replace the ISPP Precursor, which would collect Mars CO2 and generate oxygen, but not methane. Ok. That's good, but still very expensive.

As Robert Zubrin said, a Scout class mission could use an arm like Phoenix to collect samples, then send then directly to Earth like Stardust or Genesis. It would use full ISPP for return. Scout class was defined to cost between US$300 million and US$485 million. Last budget I read for Mars 2020 was US$2 billion; and NASA mission budgets have a habit of growing.

Yea, I talked to Robert Zubrin about this at a Mars Society convention years ago. He didn't like the idea of a robotic Mars sample return mission at all. He wanted just human. I argued we need a technology demonstrator for ISPP before we commit human lives to it, so I see this as a prerequisite to a human mission. And I argued it could be done in the budget of a Scout class mission, but only if you use ISPP. He didn't like it at that time, but apparently he remembered that discussion. So when Mars 2020 was proposed, he pointed out sample return could be done in a Scout class budget. More people listen to Dr. Zubrin than me; after all he has the degree, I don't.

::Edit:: Instead of collecting samples with an arm like Mars Phoenix, you could use a tiny rover like Mars Sojourner. Dr. Zubrin pointed that out too.

Just another post that is thoughts along the same direction in removing the would be obsticles for a human mission to Mars.

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#4 2015-03-12 18:09:46

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

There were 3 very good entries into the Group Seeks Winning Mars Sample Return Design a MarsDrive contest that was judged by a panel of judges that did review each entry.

Those judges include, to date:
Robert Zubrin, president of The Mars Society;
Louis Friedman, executive director of The Planetary Society;
Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, and
Grant Bonin, an aerospace engineer and the author of "Mars for Less.".

Project Rigel: Mars Sample Return by Kent Nebergall
Mars Challenger by Terry Wilson

will post other links once I find them...

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#5 2015-03-16 17:50:50

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

RobertDyck wrote:

To keep cost down, the mission requires ISPP.

GW Johnson wrote:

I would caution that relying on technologies and hardware with no experience behind it is a bad idea.  A lot of the mission designs I have seen do exactly that,  thus having single-point failure modes that will kill crews. 

A lot of these proposals rely inherently on ISPP.  But what if it doesn't function up to par "in the field"? 

GW

RobertDyck wrote:

I have recommended robotic sample return. Simply as a technology demonstrator for ISPP. My point is the same argument you're making, GW, that any technology that human lives depend on has to be thoroughly tested first.

Terraformer wrote:

Re. ISPP, I don't think there are any serious proposals to actually test the system for the first time in Martian conditions *whilst the crew is there*. Mars Direct had it done before - no fuel, the crew don't launch. Mars Sample Return proposals use it without any humans relying on it. As long as you make sure the fuel is there before launching the crew, it shouldn't be any worse than not using it. Any extra that's produced can be used during the mission itself, to allow a more thorough mapping of the planet using things like suborbital rockets and long-range mobile bases.

GW Johnson wrote:

The other thing to worry about is what missions there might actually be.  My best guess for the next 20 years is a very small handful of unmanned-probe rovers and fixed landers.  And I do mean small:  maybe 1 more big rover,  and maybe 3-4 small things,  rovers and fixed together. 

That's really not enough to "prove out" your ISPP,  now,  is it?  Be honest with yourself.  Not just demo it,  PROVE that it works,  regardless of circumstances and human error.  THAT'S what you bet lives on. 

GW

RobertDyck wrote:

GW, now I don't know what you're talking about. ISPP has already been demonstrated as a brass board at Pioneer Astronautix, Robert Zubrin's company. What I said robotic sample return. That PROVES it works. Any mission plan, whether Mars Direct or mine, involves producing propellant on Mars before any astronauts leave Earth. Mars Direct has the ERV produce propellant, mine lands the MAV unmanned ahead of time. In both cases the propellant tanks (both fuel and oxidizer) are confirmed full before astronauts leave Earth.

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#6 2015-03-16 17:58:35

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

The question that I have is one of dependability as see on the ISS in that the Sabatier is not function correctly and is not creating water which could cut the stations water resupply levels. Also without the water we have to refill the oxygen levels as well. That said it is why I wanted to complete a baseline of facts for the applications of these very important items and at what level do we need backups for when they do not work over the life of a mission.

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#7 2015-03-16 18:25:25

RobertDyck
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

From the website of Pioneer Astronautics, Robert Zubrin's company. From 2004.
Mars Integrated Propellant Production System - FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY

I should point out, Sabatier reactor is key to Zurbin's ISPP. And Sabatier is now part of life support on ISS. So well demonstrated.

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#8 2015-03-17 05:47:03

Terraformer
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

How long has the ISS reactor gone without maintenance? We need something that will last ~3 years without any human intervention.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#9 2015-03-17 16:33:35

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

I have been trying to research just that question and here is what I have found so far.

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi. … 016427.pdf

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/181148main_Sabatier_merged.pdf

The Sabatier System: Producing Water on the ISS May 13, 2011

https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/20 … rt-020515/

Sabatier Procedure Review:  Wilmore reviewed procedures associated with removing the Laminar Flow Element (LFE) Rod from the Sabatier System. 

Sabatier has produced very little water since the compressor was replaced in December 2014.

The maximum flow through the LFE has been decreasing which is indicative of blockage. The removal of the LFE Rod is scheduled for Friday, February 6th and is expected to alleviate the problem. Sabatier uses a catalyst that reacts with carbon dioxide and hydrogen, both byproducts of current life-support systems onboard the ISS in order to produce water and methane.

   

Still looking for data in between to see what else has gone wrong with the operation of the unit but if the start was June 2011 and it became not work December 2014 that is only 3.5 years of operating at the most. I will keep digging when I have time... unless someone else finds the information and will post the answer.

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#10 2015-03-18 18:07:42

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

GW Johnson wrote:

I understand completely that ISPP devices work fine on laboratory benchtops here on Earth,  even at simulated Martian conditions.  So,  how good are the simulated Martian conditions?  That's only the first of several questions that come to mind,  derived from the school of hard knocks,  guys.  What we know to simulate about Martian conditions was not good enough for the design of Curiosity's wheels,  apparently. 

We might even get to try ISPP out in a couple of probes on Mars before we attempt to send men there.  That's a tiny handful of real site conditions.  But,  like the Apollo hatch and wiring,  we will NOT know that it works the same in all the different conditions in all the sites on Mars,  including where we might really want to send crews.  It'll be something idiotic like "angular dust particles that screws up the works in some ways that we just didn't anticipate".  We have already run into THAT with moondust. 

Take the supplies to function even if ISPP is a total failure.  If it works,  just accomplish more.  Same for all the other technologies-that-aren't-yet-well-proven,  such as the closed-loop ecology life support that still does not exist today.  And astronaut food that'll last 3 years in storage,  which still does not exist today.  And exercise regimes that stave-off microgravity disease for 3 full years,  which still do not exist today. 

GW

RobertDyck wrote:

GW Johnson: You're arguments sound like "Don't go into space at all. Ever!" That is what politicians will hear from this. You argued to test ISPP. Yes, testing is necessary. Dr. Zubrin didn't want any sort of robotic sample return mission, because he wanted humans to Mars. His focus was to argue with those who don't want any humans in space at all, ever. But my point was our experience with Apollo proved everything has to be thoroughly tested first. And since human lives will depend on ISPP, that has to be tested first. I was highly critical of NASA when they "forgot" about the Mars 2001 Lander. Someone converted it into Mars Phoenix by removing all engineering experiments in favour of more science. Both the radiation sensor and ISPP Precursor were removed. Curiosity has a radiation sensor, so that has been replaced. As you pointed out, the radiation sensor on Mars Odyssey, in orbit around Mars, is nice, but estimates of how much radiation the Mars atmosphere will block are just that, estimates. We needed ground truth. That's very valid, and the radiation sensor of Curiosity has replaced the one on the Mars 2001 Lander. However, the other experiment removed was the ISPP Precursor. It was supposed to collect CO2 from Mars atmosphere, so would test in actual Mars conditions, and convert that to oxygen. It wouldn't have the Sabatier Reactor, but would have the oxygen generator. ISPP requires both, but collection and purification of CO2 to feed the Sabatier was a critical step that would be tested by the ISPP Precursor. My point with Dr. Zurbin was we also need to test the entire system, end-to-end, on Mars. The best way to do that is a robotic Mars sample-return mission. As a technology demonstrator. And I pointed out that if done as something very simple, either with a collection arm like Viking or Phoenix, or a tiny rover like Sojourner, then the entire mission could fit within the budget of a Scout class mission. And it's critical to test this before committing human lives. This discussion with Dr. Zubrin was one-on-one in a hallway at a Mars Society convention. In the end I got him to grudgingly accept the idea of a robotic Mars sample-return mission, but only as a technology demonstrator for ISPP. But now you, Mr. Johnson, are arguing for testing. What? Isn't that what I said?

Let's look at this. First was Dr. Zubrin's brass-board test in his workshop. That was funded by a NASA SBIR contract. Next we need a complete, full-scale, end-to-end test done in a ground lab test. Then we need ISPP Precursor on Mars. Then we need a robotic Mars sample-return mission. And finally, we need to send the ERV unmanned ahead of astronauts. Only when propellant tanks are completely full and ready to return to Earth do astronauts depart Earth. That's lots. What more do you want?

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#11 2015-03-18 18:18:03

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

GW Johnson wrote:

Somehow I gave RobertDyck the wrong idea.  We agree that men should go to Mars. They should have gone some years ago. 

All I was trying to say was that you go with "what works right now",  and build and test your vehicles based on those technologies and science.  There's a spectrum of readiness to consider:  some things are well-proven,  others are relatively new.  The well-proven things you can bet lives on,  the relatively-new things you use,  but with back-ups.  (Don't try to develop a brand new technology for this,  or you'll never go.)

Now I understand that ISPP has had successful demos in the lab,  and on ISS.  The plan to demo it on Mars gets you information from 2 maybe 3 sites.  So that's "relatively new"  not "well-proven".  Although,  if sent ahead,  having the propellant ready before you send a crew at all is a very good back-up.  All that approach begs is landing accuracy.  The risks are both too far and too close. 

Given all this,  I see no technical reason we could not start now,  aimed at a mission on 5-10 years.  The problems are all human decision-making,  not technical. 

GW

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#13 2015-08-12 12:21:01

Antius
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

One intriguing propellant that is only applicable to Mars, would be liquid CO2.  At Martian atmospheric temperatures the amount of work needed to compress atmospheric CO2 into liquid would be small.  If stored heat is then used to boil the CO2 it could raise substantial pressures.  Stored heat could be in the form of solar heat in rock, water or phase change material.

The reheated CO2 could be passed through a gas turbine to raise mechanical or electric power or could be used in compressed air powered tools.  The energy density may be too low for long distance mobile applications.  But for heavy digging and soil moving equipment that would remain in the vicinity of a base, refilling would be less of an issue.  Perhaps such a vehicle would carry both a liquid CO2 and a hot water tank.

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#14 2015-10-18 07:47:46

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

New crystal captures carbon from humid gas

Scientists have created crystals that capture carbon dioxide much more efficiently than previously known materials, even in the presence of water. The new material is called SGU-29, named after Sogang University in Korea, and is the result of international cooperation. It is a copper silicate crystal.

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#15 2015-10-21 21:03:06

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

Something from the movie The Martian turning Hydrazine into water got me thinking of using it as the carrier uel to jump start Methan creation.....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrazine

hydrazine is passed by a catalyst such as iridium metal supported by high-surface-area alumina (aluminium oxide) or carbon nanofibers, or more recently molybdenum nitride on alumina, which causes it to decompose into ammonia, nitrogen gas, and hydrogen gas according to the following reactions:

1.   3 N2H4 → 4 NH3 + N2
2.      N2H4 → N2 + 2 H2
3.   4 NH3 + N2H4 → 3 N2 + 8 H2

Reactions 1 and 2 are extremely exothermic (the catalyst chamber can reach 800 °C in a matter of milliseconds

Then feed Co2 into the sabetier reactor chamber and you get water + methane and we get extra nitrogen as a bonus....

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#16 2015-12-25 23:17:46

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

I have been reminded that we have had no talks lately on Nasa doing any missions to mars to prove out the system that we will depend on in order to send men to Mars.

Reference Mission Version 3.0 timeline has come and gone http://ston.jsc.nasa.gov/collections/TR … 07-ADD.pdf there are lots of useable numbers to bounce any mission against...

Hybrid Rocket Propulsion and In-Situ Propellant Production for Future Mars Missions
http://web.stanford.edu/~cantwell/Recen … 3-3899.pdf

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#17 2016-05-06 22:12:05

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

I have been looking for a sabatier reactor design to build and came across this one...

How to Make Your Own Gasoline
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Own-Gasoline

Gasoline has become a necessity for most people. However, gas is becoming expensive, so more and more people are interested in making their own gasoline. How? Read on to find out how to make gasoline using a Fischer Tropsch process which takes organic garbage and turns it into synthetic gasoline.

Run a small pilot light (1/8") from the main gas storage. It should be kept lit while the machine is in operation. Happy motoring! This thing makes 1 gallon at a time - it will take 15 minutes for the reaction to complete.

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#18 2016-05-07 11:27:38

GW Johnson
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

Way down at the bottom of the site I noticed he says "don't forget to add 10% ethanol".  That confirms what I thought:  gasoline made this way would be a very low octane material,  very much like "drip gas" at the oil well.  Maybe 30 to 40 motor octane at best. 

Adding 10% ethanol (that's a high-octane material) might get you fairly close to 80 motor octane.  Maybe.  I doubt it,  really.  It would still be marginal at best,  and if you tried to use it without the ethanol,  your compression ratio had better not exceed about 3 to 3.5.  Even with the ethanol,  I'd stick with low compression spark-ignition engines,  no more than about 6 or 7 to 1.  Because I'd bet the motor octane is really closer to only 60 or 70. 

Otherwise,  you will be picking up pieces of your engine from all over the yard because of violent detonation.  The stuff would actually be a better diesel fuel (since low octane = high cetane,  and vice versa),  although the viscosity is too low to work right in most Diesel fuel injection schemes. 

I don't know much about methane and similar properties required for successful rocket engines,  but I'd be willing to bet there are some "gotchas" in ISPP as we understand it today.  Murphy's Law says so,  if nothing else. 

And THAT is why I think a successful lab brassboard of a methane ISPP device is light years' short of knowing a thing will work "in the field" when lives are at stake. 

When I say that,  I'm not suggesting we give up on it.  I'm saying we get on with a very long,  hard war to turn the thing into hardware that we really can depend upon.  Almost all scientists and way too many engineers are not very cognizant of that disparity between a lab result and a useful piece of equipment. 

GW



GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#19 2016-05-07 14:40:44

RobertDyck
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

Years ago I had a brief discussion with Dr. Zubrin at a Mars Society convention. At the University of Colorado in Boulder. I said we need an unmanned test of ISPP to demonstrated this equipment before we commit human lives to it. That means robotic sample return. He argued against robotic sample return, but I continued to argue the necessity to demonstrate equipment. He grudgingly accepted that we would have to do this, but only as a technology demonstrator for ISPP.

Of course my greatest frustration is robotic sample return with ISPP has been tried 3 times that I'm aware of, and probably more. Each time someone discovers ISPP makes the mission affordable, gets a government space agency to approve it (NASA or ESA), the project starts, then some yahoo says "you aren't testing new equipment on *MY* mission!" They remove ISPP, the price skyrockets, then politicians cancel the project due to cost. This cycle has repeated 3 times that I know of. For those who want robotic sample return, they should learn from this: keep ISPP or your project is cancelled. But no, it appears some scientists can be really stupid.

By the way, I attended "Canadian Space Exploration Workshop" 4 and 5, both hosted by the Canadian Space Agency. The stated purpose was to consult with the Canadian space community to set goals for the Canadian Space Agency. I found some scientists were as prejudice against the engineers as "Sheldon Cooper" from "The Big Bang Theory". Some scientists were excited at the idea of working on a project to carry humans to Mars, others really really hate the idea of "primates in metal cans". That quote comes from one astronomer who only wants space telescopes, nothing but space telescopes.

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#20 2016-05-07 16:00:45

Terraformer
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

Wasn't Deep Space 1 a probe mission *dedicated* to using new technologies?

Perhaps, instead of using it for a sample return mission which wouldn't bear any fruit if the ISPP fails, it should be added to a regular Mars lander that carries it simply to test it? Maybe even one that can make suborbital hops if it proves viable...


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#21 2016-05-07 16:21:06

RobertDyck
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

Yes. Deep Space 1 was a "technology demonstrator". That means technology was the mission. This was part of what I said to Dr. Zurbin, that sample return has to be designated "technology demonstrator". That means technology is the primary mission, the Mars surface samples will be secondary at best, if not ancillary. Engineers will love that, scientists will hate it. But regardless whether you agree with human space exploration or not, this is the only way to make a Mars sample return happen.

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#22 2016-05-07 22:27:53

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer-Tropsch_process

The Fischer–Tropsch process involves a series of chemical reactions that produce a variety of hydrocarbons, ideally having the formula (CnH(2n+2)). The more useful reactions produce alkanes as follows:

(2n + 1) H2 + n CO → CnH(2n+2) + n H2O

where n is typically 10-20. The formation of methane (n = 1) is unwanted. Most of the alkanes produced tend to be straight-chain, suitable as diesel fuel. In addition to alkane formation, competing reactions give small amounts of alkenes, as well as alcohols and other oxygenated hydrocarbons. Many related stoichiometric reactions have been simulated on discrete metal clusters, but homogeneous Fischer–Tropsch catalysts are poorly developed and of no commercial importance.

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#23 2016-05-08 20:27:20

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

I am still in researching mode to see if there are some of these reactors that can be built witout specialized tools and able to be maintained with simple tools as well.
http://bioweb.sungrant.org/General/Biop … Efault.htm

F1ProductsfromSyngascopy.gif

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#25 2017-01-21 19:38:21

SpaceNut
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Re: In-Situ Propellant Production, design a opensource demonstrator

Any effort to make Mars possible starts from these same key points made by others following
Post #43 in Space Solar Economy

Void wrote:

Insitu #1: So of course the first Insitu productive capability would likely be to procure Oxygen from Lunar materials.  Maybe Oxygen and Hydrogen, if the mined materials are water ice.

Insitu #2: I presume that the next Lunar Insitu priority will be to manufacture shelter from relatively crude materials for the most part.

Insitu #3: Then the next Insitu priority would be to manufacture hardware goods of significant quality as to be reliable and useful, and from local materials.

Of which for men to go we will need to preload supplies to make it for others to do step 1 which would be followed in time by othes as we develope methods to complete the survival of those that go.

GW Johnson wrote:

That second paragraph is why generalizable stuff needs to be produced floating in space,  not down in gravity wells on Mars,  the moon,  or even Mercury.  In this context,  "generalizable" means stuff you could make anywhere,  such as oxygen and hydrogen from water.  Admittedly,  the gravity wells of Mars,  the moon,  and Mercury are weaker,  but you still have to fight them to export stuff from those places.  Asteroidal gravity wells are reasonably ignorable,  even at Ceres.

GW lists the specifics needed from each insitu step as put forth.

GW Johnson wrote:

These colony things are best done as a sort of bootstrap / piggyback process.  You start with the research/exploration base.  If something crops up that justifies it,  more will grow slowly from the worthwhile scientific / exploration base.  If nothing crops up,  no point trying to grow a colony there.

Each step is as such a building block in the process which due to the stay timeframe is piggy backing/bootstrapping off from science discovery and of exploration to make the discovery possible for use in creation of the foundation that makes it possible forman to stay.

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