As part of U.S. National Space Policy, NASA is seeking an innovative path for human space exploration, which strengthens the capability to extend human and robotic presence throughout the solar system. NASA is laying the groundwork to enable humans to safely reach multiple potential destinations, including the Moon, asteroids, Lagrange points, and Mars and its environs. The Agency is leading the Nation on a course of discovery and innovation that will provide the technologies, capabilities and infrastructure required for sustainable, affordable human presence in space. As part of that plan, NASA is embarking on a mission to conduct an in-space Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer Demonstration. This flight demonstration mission will test and validate key cryogenic capabilities and technologies required for future exploration elements, opening up the architecture for large cryogenic propulsion stages and propellant depots.
The purpose of this mission is to demonstrate the capability to store, transfer, and measure cryogenic propellants on-orbit for a duration, which proves extensible to enable long-term human space exploration missions beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Minimizing boil-off losses of cryogenic propellants on long duration missions is a critical capability needed to enable high-energy cryogenic propulsion stages, a key component of future human spaceflight architectures. The goal of this exploration-specific Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer (CPST) Project (herein referred to as “CPST Project”) is to enable the capability of storing, transferring, and measuring quantities of cryogenic propellants in-space. Technology developments under consideration include advanced thermal insulation, measurement of propellant mass, and liquid acquisition devices for propellant transfer.