The Modular Artificial-Gravity Orbital Refinery Spacecraft (MAGORS) is a technology from NASA Ames Research Center for in-situ refining or recycling of materials in space, including mass from asteroids, Mars moons, orbiting “space junk” debris, and for in-situ creation of products from operations in low or microgravity environments.
There has been considerable interest in the exploration and mining of asteroids with spacecraft as well as mitigating the growing threat of space debris. Refining operations, such as centrifugal refining processes, introduce challenges for operating in space that are not relevant on Earth, including the need for gravity to refine operations to function properly. This technology provides an effective and efficient approach to address these needs and challenges.
The spacecraft is coupled with refining modules for refining and recycling different types of materials. It generates artificial gravity for operation in low-gravity environments.
The spacecraft is comprised of rotating rings, each generating artificial gravity and angular momentum. When the rotating rings are combined on the spacecraft platform, however, they have a net near-zero angular momentum such that the spacecraft can change its attitude with minimal propellant or rotate at the rate of the object the spacecraft platform is attached to.
The spacecraft platform can self-balance to accommodate different sized modules and modules with moving loads. The refined and recycled materials can be used to create products in-situ-as well as products too large to launch from Earth, such as construction of orbiting space habitats, large spacecraft, solar-power stations, and observatories.