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Crew Health and Performance Improvements with Reduced Carbon Dioxide Levels and the Resource Impact to Accomplish Those ReductionsCarbon dioxide (CO2) removal is one of the primary functions of the International Space Station (ISS) atmosphere revitalization systems. Primary CO2 removal is via the ISS s two Carbon Dioxide Removal Assemblies (CDRAs) and the Russian carbon dioxide removal assembly (Vozdukh); both of these systems are regenerable, meaning that their CO2 removal capacity theoretically remains constant as long as the system is operating. Contingency CO2 removal capability is provided by lithium hydroxide (LiOH) canisters, which are consumable, meaning that their CO2 removal capability disappears once the resource is used. With the advent of 6 crew ISS operations, experience showing that CDRA failures are not uncommon, and anecdotal association of crew symptoms with CO2 values just above 4 mmHg, the question arises: How much lower do we keep CO2 levels to minimize the risk to crew health and performance, and what will the operational cost to the CDRAs be to do it? The primary crew health concerns center on the interaction of increased intracranial pressure from fluid shifts and the increased intracranial blood flow induced by CO2. Typical acute symptoms include headache, minor visual disturbances, and subtle behavioral changes. The historical database of CO2 exposures since the beginning of ISS operations has been compared to the incidence of crew symptoms reported in private medical conferences. We have used this database in an attempt to establish an association between the CO2 levels and the risk of crew symptoms. This comparison will answer the question of the level needed to protect the crew from acute effects. As for the second part of the question, operation of the ISS s regenerable CO2 removal capability reduces the limited life of constituent parts. It also consumes limited electrical power and thermal control resources. Operation of consumable CO2 removal capability (LiOH) uses finite consumable materials, which must be replenished in the long term. Therefore, increased CO2 removal means increased resource use, with increased logistical capability to maintain necessary resources on board ISS. We must strike a balance between sufficiently low CO2 levels to maintain crew health and CO2 levels which are operationally feasible for the ISS program
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
James, John T.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Meyers, Valerie E.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Sipes, Walter
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Scully, Robert R.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Matty, Christopher M.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2011
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
International Conference on Environmental Systems(Portland, OR)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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