Monday, August 17, 2009

Solar Concentrator Demonstrator for lunar regolith processing

Air Force Research Laboratory 4m x 6m Solar Concentrator. The inflatable design was formed by casting NASA Langley Research Center’s CP-1 polymer over a mandrel machined to the offaxis parabolic shape.

John C. Fikes, with Joe T. Howell, Harold P. Gerrish & Stephen L. Patrick
Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is building a portable inflatable solar concentrator ground demonstrator for use in testing in situ resource utilization (ISRU) lunar regolith processing methods.

Of primary interest is the production of oxygen as a propellant oxidizer and for life support. There are various processes being proposed for the in-situ reduction of the lunar regolith, the leading processes are hydrogen reduction, carbothermal reduction and vapor phase pyrolysis.

The concentrator system being built at MSFC could support demonstrations of all of these processes.

The system consists of a light inflatable concentrator that will capture sunlight and focus it onto a receiver inside a vacuum chamber. Inflatable concentrators are good for space based applications due to their low weight and dense packaging at launch. The hexapod design allows the spot size to be increased to reduce the power density if needed for the process being demonstrated. In addition to the hardware development, a comprehensive simulation model is being developed and will be verified and validated using the system hardware.

The model will allow for the evaluation of different lunar locations and operational scenarios for the lunar regolith processing with a high confidence in the predicted results.

Download the Adobe pdf HERE.

No comments: