For the first time ever, NASA tested a new waste disposal technology by releasing about 78 kg of garbage from the International Space Station. This waste disposal technology has been developed by Nanoracks, a waste disposal company based in Texas. The trash was jettisoned from the Bishop Airlock of the space station at 5:35 am IST on July 2 and deployed Nanoracks’ first-of-its-kind technology.
According to Nanoracks, which developed the first-of-its-kind technology in collaboration with NASA’s Johnson Space Center, this initiative demonstrated an efficient and sustainable model for eliminating waste aboard the ISS.
The test made it clear that this particular technology eliminates waste from the ISS very efficiently and in a sustainable manner. NASA is quite impressed with this technology and there is a good chance of it being implemented in several space stations in the near future.
“This weekend was yet another historic milestone for the Nanoracks team. This was the first open-close cycle of the Bishop Airlock, our first deployment, and what we hope is the beginning of new, more sustainable ISS disposal operations,” says Dr. Amela Wilson, Nanoracks CEO. This successful test not only demonstrates the future of waste removal for space stations but also highlights our ability to leverage the ISS as a commercial technology testbed, which provides critical insights into how we can prepare for the next phases of commercial LEO destinations. Thank you to NASA and the ISS Program for their continued support, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration.”
ISS astronauts gather waste material and then, keep it on the space station for several months till the Cygnus cargo vehicle comes and collects it. Cygnus has often been described as a disposable spacecraft that is put together to carry essential supplies to the space station. Once the spacecraft completes this task, astronauts put multiple bags containing trash into it and release them. Soon enough, the spacecraft de-orbits and gets burned down while trying to enter the Earth’s atmosphere again.
This brand new technology, which has been discovered by Nanocracks, involves the use of a specialized waste container mounted over the Bishop Airlock. Around 270 kg of trash can be filled inside it by the crew members.
Once the container is released, it burns up while attempting to enter Earth. While this technology is very similar to the Cygnus method, it has been found to be far more sustainable and efficient. Here, astronauts will not be required to wait for the arrival of the cargo spacecraft to get rid of the waste material.
During the test conducted by NASA, the container had 78 kg of waste material including cargo transfer bags, foam, used clothing material, office supplies, packing materials, and hygiene products.
According to Amela Wilson, CEO at Nanoracks, this successful test has paved the way for this innovative technology to be adopted by space stations. She also thanked NASA and the ISS Program for extending their support to this technology.