Regenerative Life Support Technology Challenges for the Space Exploration Initiative

by Vincent J. Bilardo, Jr., NASA Ames Research Cent, Moffett Field, United States,
Ronald L. A. Theis, NASA Ames Research Cent, Moffett Field, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III


Regenerative life support systems have been identified as one of the critical enabling technologies for future human exploration of space. This discipline encompasses processes and subsystems which regenerate the air, water, solid waste, and food streams typical of human habitation so as to minimize the mass and volume of stored consumables which must accompany the humans on a mission. A number of key technology challenges within this broad discipline are described, ranging from the development of new physical, chemical, and biological processes for regenerating the air, water, solid waste and food streams to the development of improved techniques for monitoring and controlling microbial and trace constituent contamination. A continuing challenge overarching the development of these new technologies is the need to minimize the mass, volume, and electrical power consumption of the flight hardware. More important for long duration exploration missions, however, is the development of highly reliable, long-lived, self-sufficient systems which absolutely minimize the logistics resupply and operational maintenance requirements of the life support system and which ensure human safety through their robust, reliable operating characteristics.

Subject Headings: Space life support systems | Water pollution | System reliability | Human factors | Solid mechanics | Solid wastes | Chemical wastes | Electric power

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