Reaching Mars is an immense challenge, as the planet's surface is littered with crashed and defunct spacecraft. But returning from the Red Planet? That requires hurdling another obstacle: harvesting rocket fuel.
BoMax Hydrogen and Joi Scientific are two Florida-based start-ups working to prove concepts to produce hydrogen. They each have unique approaches to the process but are both based at the Space Life Sciences Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
Hydrogen is typically harvested from fossil fuels and methane.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine recently spoke to CNBC about the significance of hydrogen on the surface of Mars and the moon. Both planetary bodies have immense amounts of frozen water on the surface, which Bridenstine explained.
"That means you've got air to breathe — oxygen. You've got water to drink — H2O," Bridenstine said. "But you've also got rocket fuel on the surface of the moon. Hydrogen and oxygen, cracked into its component parts, put into cryogenic form, it's the same rocket fuel that powered the space shuttles."