NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate awarded 15-month contracts with a total maximum value of $3 million to four entities studying ways to improve oxygen recycling technology needed for future deep-space missions, the agency announced Oct. 7.

By the end of the 15-month contract term, the four awardees must all build a demonstration unit for the technology NASA funded them to study. These technologies must help increase the oxygen recovery rate aboard human-occupied spacecraft to at least 75 percent while achieving high reliability, NASA wrote in the release.

The four awardees, and the technologies they are working on, are:

  • NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Cleveland: “Oxygen Recovery from Carbon Dioxide Using Ion Exchange Membrane Electrolysis Technology.”
  • Glenn Research Center: “A Combined Solid Oxide Co-Electrolyzer and Carbon Formation Reactor System for Spacecraft Life Support Oxygen Regeneration.”
  • UMPQUA Research Co., Myrtle Creek, Oregon: “Continuous Bosch Reactor.”
  • University of Texas at Arlington: “Microfluidic Electrochemical Reactor for Oxygen Recovery via Carbon Dioxide Electrolysis.

NASA said it could choose one or more of these technologies for follow-on funding in the form of $2 million two-year contracts.”

Dan Leone is a SpaceNews staff writer, covering NASA, NOAA and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public communications from the American University in Washington.