ISS Regenerative Life Support: Challenges and Success in the Quest for Long-Term Habitability in SpaceThis presentation will discuss the International Space Station s (ISS) Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) operations with discussion of the on-orbit lessons learned, specifically regarding the challenges that have been faced as the system has expanded with a growing ISS crew. Over the 10 year history of the ISS, there have been numerous challenges, failures, and triumphs in the quest to keep the crew alive and comfortable. Successful operation of the ECLSS not only requires maintenance of the hardware, but also management of the station resources in case of hardware failure or missed re-supply. This involves effective communication between the primary International Partners (NASA and Roskosmos) and the secondary partners (JAXA and ESA) in order to keep a reserve of the contingency consumables and allow for re-supply of failed hardware. The ISS ECLSS utilizes consumables storage for contingency usage as well as longer-term regenerative systems, which allow for conservation of the expensive resources brought up by re-supply vehicles. This long-term hardware, and the interactions with software, was a challenge for Systems Engineers when they were designed and require multiple operational workarounds in order to function continuously. On a day-to-day basis, the ECLSS provides big challenges to the on console controllers. Main challenges involve the utilization of the resources that have been brought up by the visiting vehicles prior to undocking, balance of contributions between the International Partners for both systems and resources, and maintaining balance between the many interdependent systems, which includes providing the resources they need when they need it. The current biggest challenge for ECLSS is the Regenerative ECLSS system, which continuously recycles urine and condensate water into drinking water and oxygen. These systems were brought to full functionality on STS-126 (ULF-2) mission. Through system failures and recovery, the ECLSS console has learned how to balance the water within the systems, store and use water for contingencies, and continue to work with the International Partners for short-term failures. Through these challenges and the system failures, the most important lesson learned has been the importance of redundancy and operational workarounds. It is only because of the flexibility of the hardware and the software that flight controllers have the opportunity to continue operating the system as a whole for mission success.
Bazley, Jesse A. (Universities Space Research Association Houston, TX, United States)