National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Reuse of Expended Space Hardware

Much hardware put into space is used once and discarded, burned up in the atmosphere, crashed into the moon, or left stranded in useless orbits and creating orbital debris hazards after meeting initially planned objectives.

 

Future space operations may capitalize on residual value of such hardware. Everything launched into orbit has potential value from the transportation cost and as raw material for future development; value may be extracted for reuse to perform other functions using some or all intended design capabilities, or may be modified or retrofitted to perform entirely new functions.

 

Early explorers and settlers innovated to make the most of every item brought with them to be successful. The difficulty getting equipment to remote locations and conditions made it impossible to replace such items, requiring them to treat such items as extremely valuable resources, even though raw natural resources were readily available for "in-situ processing."

 

NASA may rapidly and cost-effectively expand in-space architectures and capabilities by converting and reusing expended hardware as valuable deep space exploration infrastructure instead of becoming space junk. Space commercialization markets may be developed to provide service or modification capabilities collateralized by and utilizing assets acquired under law-of-the-sea salvage principles.

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Idea No. 11032