National Aeronautics and Space Administration game changing development Power for Journeys and Discoveries in Space Left: Powering Scarab with a non-flow- through fuel cell. Right: ASPS’s 3-kilowatt fuel cell stack. Future robotic and human space explorers will need low-cost, abundant, reliable power as they journey far from Earth and make discoveries on other worlds. In addition to solar power for electric spacecraft propulsion, they will need power to keep their life support, maintenance, and repair systems working reliably. They also will need power for surface vehicles; for excavating, collecting, and analyzing samples; and for conducting science experiments. Power will have to be available at “night,” during eclipses, and for up to 8 hours at a time for activities outside the spacecraft.
The Advanced Space Power Systems Project (ASPS) funded by NASA’s Game Changing Development Program is developing advanced battery and fuel cell technologies to provide this vital power. In 2012, ASPS also built a refueling station for a fuel-cell-powered city bus and held events to inspire Ohio students. ASPS is a nationwide effort of NASA centers and contractors, other Government agencies, universities, and manufacturers. It is led by NASA’s Glenn Research Center.