Zero-G Horizons Technologies (ZGHT) in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is developing a Spacecraft On-Orbit Advanced Refueling and Storage (SOARS) system. SOARS directly supports Moon to Mars Campaign (NASA’s Space Policy Directive-1). The key innovation of SOARS enables the separation of liquid and gas in microgravity through our unique rotational settling technology and leads to transfer of only the desired liquid propellant with minimal pressure difference without expensive pumps and thereby providing a cost-effective solution. ZGHT the first and the only company who pioneered this unique SOARS technology to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4 through the Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology (FAST) program flight testing using NASA’s Reduced Gravity Aircraft (30 seconds microgravity). Through this NASA SBIR grant, suborbital flight test onboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo (four minutes microgravity) and orbital flight test onboard the International Space Station (ISS) will mature the technology to TRL 7. Exposure to long-duration microgravity environment using ISS facility is a key factor in demonstrating this technology for various operational test scenarios using the Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) testbed onboard ISS. The collaboration with Made In Space (MIS) will enable utilization of the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) to fabricate the experiment hardware in ISS. Ultimately ZGHT is committed to establish itself as a key player in the area of propellant storage and transfer in space. Phase I of this SBIR will involve planning and preparation for suborbital Virgin Galactic vehicle and orbital ISS testing. Phase II will involve the fabrication and flight experimentation. Phase III involves the identification and collaboration with commercial partners and to utilize Archinaut program of MIS to directly fabricate and test the prototype in Low Earth Orbit.
SOARS will enable the commercialization of on-orbit propellant depots, which will greatly improve the capability of current and future NASA launch systems. SOARS can be an alternative option to expensive Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles through the refueling of Small to Medium Lift Launch Vehicles once on-orbit to extend their range and mission capabilities. SOARS will facilitate Moon to Mars Campaign Missions by providing a base for exploration and enhance the human missions in cislunar space. SOARS can effectively support NASA’s Restore-L mission.
SOARS will be an on-orbit fuel station to meet the demands of commercial space exploration sector. SOARS can support the expanding range and endurance requirements of commercial space missions such as space tourism, transportation, research, mining, habitation, and national security missions. Terrestrial applications include medical effective capillary flows, IVs, and better centrifuge systems.