Vision of the Future of Space Refueling with CPVs

Space Buzz... We’ve already discussed the next space race and with more private launch vehicle manufacturers, launching more cargo/satellites into LEO, GEO, the ISS and now Moon missions; now more than ever composite pressure vessels (CPVs) are vital to these growing markets.

There are new trends coming, and thus new market share to be claimed!  

Among some of the most exciting (in my opinion) opportunities are: space mining, mars missions, and new trips to the moon. Thanks to likes of groups like Blue Origin, Moon Express, SpaceX and Planetary Resources among others.

Poised to be one the largest market opportunities with an estimated value of more than $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000)... I had to write it out, it will likely create a whole new way we gather resources. And with Elon Musk’s mission to become an interplanetary species, it will become crucial to supplying many of the future aspirations of mankind.

So why will pressure vessels be so important in these new space races?

It takes as much fuel to leave [watch the video] the first 300 km of Earth’s atmosphere as it does to get to nearby planets and moons due to the Earth's gravitational pull.  Let that sink in… it takes more fuel to leave this rock, than it does to get to the next one.  According to Planetary Resources website, (previous video link) it takes 50 kilo’s of propellant to launch 1 kilo to low Earth orbit (LEO), past that, a mere 6 kg would get you to Mars. However, you have to launch all the fuel in the first place, creating an exponential problem of getting further out in space.  

The proposed solution, provide fueling in space. Now there have been a few variations on how to do that, whether it’s a fueling depot that orbits Earth similar to the ISS, a moon base launch center, or a refueling ship that follows a cargo/manned vehicle launch and refuels in space (as see in Musk’s recent concept of Mars travel).

Any way you spin it, the best solution to space travel (currently) is propellants, which require CPVs. With weight being a critical factor in space travel, mostly due to getting out of Earth’s atmosphere in the first place. The lighter the vehicle and more importantly the fuel system, the more cost effective it will be.

You know who has lightweight CPVs right? … Us. It’s ICT!