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Challenges for Life Support Systems in Space Environments, Including Food Production
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Author and Affiliation:
Wheeler, Raymond M.(NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cocoa Beach, FL, United States)
Abstract: Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) refer to the technologies needed to sustain human life in space environments. Histor ically these technologies have focused on providing a breathable atmo sphere, clean water, food, managing wastes, and the associated monitoring capabilities. Depending on the space agency or program, ELCSS has sometimes expanded to include other aspects of managing space enviro nments, such as thermal control, radiation protection, fire detection I suppression, and habitat design. Other times, testing and providing these latter technologies have been associated with the vehicle engi neering. The choice of ECLSS technologies is typically driven by the mission profile and their associated costs and reliabilities. These co sts are largely defined by the mass, volume, power, and crew time req uirements. For missions close to Earth, e.g., low-Earth orbit flights, stowage and resupply of food, some 0 2, and some water are often the most cost effective option. But as missions venture further into spa ce, e.g., transit missions to Mars or asteroids, or surface missions to Moon or Mars, the supply line economics change and the need to clos e the loop on life support consumables increases. These are often ref erred to as closed loop or regenerative life support systems. Regardless of the technologies, the systems must be capable of operating in a space environment, which could include micro to fractional g setting s, high radiation levels, and tightly closed atmospheres, including perhaps reduced cabin pressures. Food production using photosynthetic o rganisms such as plants by nature also provides atmospheric regenerat ion (e.g., CO2 removal and reduction, and 0 2 production), yet to date such "bioregenerative" technologies have not been used due largely t o the high power requirements for lighting. A likely first step in te sting bioregenerative capabilities will involve production of small a mounts of fresh foods to supplement to crew's diet. As humans venture further into space, regenerative life support technologies will becom e more important, and gathering accurate data on their performance an d reliabilities will require long lead times. As we learn more about sustainable living in space, we almost certainly learn more about sust ainable living on Earth.
Publication Date: Dec 02, 2012
Document ID:
20130000614
(Acquired Jan 09, 2013)
Subject Category: MAN/SYSTEM TECHNOLOGY AND LIFE SUPPORT
Report/Patent Number: KSC-2012-301
Document Type: Conference Paper
Meeting Information: American Society for Gravitatinal and Space Research; 2 Dec. 2012; New Orleans, LA; United States
Financial Sponsor: NASA Kennedy Space Center; Cocoa Beach, FL, United States
Organization Source: NASA Kennedy Space Center; Cocoa Beach, FL, United States
Description: 1p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: No Copyright
NASA Terms: AEROSPACE ENVIRONMENTS; CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL; COST EFFECTIVENESS; ECONOMICS; ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL; LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS; LOW EARTH ORBITS; PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT; RADIATION PROTECTION; TEMPERATURE CONTROL
Availability Notes: Abstract Only
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