AIR SPACE

For Deep-Space Flights, NASA Wants Gas Stations for Space

NASA has quietly put out feelers for what the space agency calls an “In-Space Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer Demonstration.” In civilian speak, that's gas stations in space.

NASA Fuel Depots

Since the beginning of manned space flight, NASA has utilized the “one-stop shop” approach, vehicles that carry all the fuel they need for the duration of a mission. For future flights, depots like this one could supply gas, however.

NASA

space depot Boeing

U.S. aerospace company Boeing has already floated a proposal for a space refueling depot.

Boeing

NASA Fuel Depot

This 1971 artist's concept shows a nuclear shuttle and an early space shuttle docked with an Orbital Propellant Depot. As envisioned by NASA, an orbital modular propellant storage depot, supplied periodically by the space shuttle or Earth-to-orbit fuel tankers, would be critical in making available large amounts of fuel to various orbital vehicles and spacecraft.

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA Orbital Liquid Hydrogen Depot

The space agency was dreaming big in 1971, also conceptualizing a proposed Orbital Liquid Hydrogen Depot.

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA Orbital Propellant Depot

An Earth-to-orbit fuel tanker approaches an orbital propellant depot, As envisioned by Marshall Space Flight Center Program Development planners in 1971.

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA fuel depot images

Boeing's full concept, from 2007 said that "if there were a fuel depot available on orbit, one capable of being replenished at any time, the Earth departure stage could, after refueling, carry significantly more payload to the Moon."

Boeing

For Deep-Space Flights, NASA Wants Gas Stations for Space

NASA has quietly put out feelers for what the space agency calls an “In-Space Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer Demonstration.” In civilian speak, that's gas stations in space.

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