Life Support for Long-Duration Interplanetary Spacecraft:
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Life Support for Long-Duration Interplanetary Spacecraft: Contributors: Sarah Atkinson, Mary Williamnson , Jacob Hollister, Jorge Santana, Olga Rodionova , Erin Mastenbrook , Dave Hyland. Megan Heard Dept . of Aerospace Engineering Texas A&M University. 2. Mission Statement.

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Megan heard dept of aerospace engineering texas a m university

Life Support for Long-Duration Interplanetary Spacecraft: Contributors: Sarah Atkinson, Mary Williamnson, Jacob Hollister, Jorge Santana, Olga Rodionova, Erin Mastenbrook, Dave Hyland

Megan Heard

Dept. of Aerospace Engineering

Texas A&M University

Mission statement


Mission Statement

“To expand the domain of humanity beyond the earth for the betterment, preservation, and advancement of all humankind by creating a self-sustaining, mobile habitat that ensures the physical and psychological well-being of its inhabitants.”

  • >24 Month Trip Time

  • 12 Crew Members

  • Capable of Interplanetary Space Travel

Cool Screenshot of station in space here

Mission statement1


Mission Statement

“To expand the domain of humanity beyond the earth for the betterment, preservation, and advancement of all humankind by creating a self-sustaining, mobile habitat that ensures the physical and psychological well-being of its inhabitants.”

  • >24 Month Trip Time

  • 12 Crew Members

  • Capable of Interplanetary Space Travel

Cool Screenshot of station in space here

System overview life support


System Overview – Life Support


Create an environment conducive to healthy human functions with no re-supply for duration of mission


  • Atmospheric Control

    • Oxygen production/re-processing

    • Carbon Dioxide management

  • Nutrition

    • Diet determination and provision of food

    • Water management

  • Waste management

    • Processing and recycling of liquid and solid waste

Life support


Life Support

Over the course of 2 years, 12 people would consume:

  • 7,360 kg oxygen

  • 18,700 kg food

  • 26,300 kg water

    Recycling is essential for any long term independent space habitation

Atmospheric control


Atmospheric Control

Atmospheric control1


Atmospheric Control

The Oxygen Generation System (OGS) on the International Space Station uses electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen

The Carbon Dioxide Removal System (CDRS) uses zeolite to filter carbon dioxide out of the air

  • Zeolite is a synthetic rock which captures CO2 but allows oxygen and nitrogen to pass through

    The hydrogen and carbon dioxide produced by these systems are vented overboard as waste

Atmospheric control2


Atmospheric Control

This system requires about .95 kg of water and produces about 1.3 kg of waste per person per day

To provide for 12 people for 2 years, 8290 kg of water would be used and 11,000 kg of waste would be produced

Disposing of waste in this manner is an unsustainable process and limits the duration of space missions

Atmospheric control3


Atmospheric Control

  • Photosynthetic algae will be used for O2 production and CO2 elimination

  • 8 m2of algae can consume enough carbon dioxide and produce enough oxygen for a single person

  • 144 m2 of algae can provide O2 for a crew of 12 with a safety factor of 1.5

Atmospheric control4


Atmospheric Control

  • Tanks only need to be 5 cm deep, yielding a volume requirement of 7.2 cubic meters

  • Total algae system mass is estimated at 7450 kg

  • The total power requirement is 100 kW for both lighting and tank stirring

  • Mechanical filtration will be used to remove other impurities from the air

Atmospheric control5


Atmospheric Control

  • The algae grown will be arthrospiraplatensis(Spirolina)

  • Supplement crew member’s diets

  • 57% protein by mass and high in numerous essential vitamins and minerals

Atmospheric control secondary


Atmospheric Control: Secondary

  • Two OGS (Oxygen Generation System) will be available as a back up in the event of algal disease or death in over 1/3 of the tanks

  • Water from the affected tanks will be filtered and then used by the OGS

  • Water from 1/3 of the tanks can produce oxygen for a crew of 12 for 214 days

  • CO2 scrubbers will be used to manage carbon dioxide levels

  • H2 and CO2 produced will be stored in pressurized tanks and recycled back into the system once the algae tanks have recovered

Atmospheric control6


Atmospheric Control







Crew diet is modeled after that of the Greek island Ikaria


  • Longevity of the Ikarians (large number of centenarians)

  • Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables and herbs

  • Wine is high in antioxidants and reduces risk of heart disease

  • Olive Oil reduces low-density lipoprotein (“bad cholesterol”)

  • Potatoes contribute heart healthy Potassium, Vitamin B6, and Fiber




  • The crew’s diet will be sourced from a combination of stored food and on-board agriculture

  • Produce not immediately consumed will be frozen for later use




Minimum requirements to sustain 12 people for 2 years

  • Grain: 4355 kg

  • Legumes: 653 kg (grown)

  • Sugar or Honey: 653 kg

  • Powdered Milk: 174 kg

  • Olive Oil: 210 kg

  • Salt: 44 kg

    Additional Stored Food

  • Fish: 245 kg

  • Meat: 363 kg

  • Dried Fruits: 65 kg

  • Wine: 2014 kg equal to 7.4 barrels

Total Storage: 8174 kg and 13 cubic meters

The addition of fresh produce from agriculture allows this amount of stored food to sustain the crew for upwards of 3 years




  • Aeroponics will be used for all agriculture

  • Reduces water usage by 98 percent, fertilizer usage by 60 percent compared to traditional crops

  • Up to six crop cycles per year, instead of the traditional one to two crop cycles.




  • Tower Gardens®

  • 20 towers each supporting 28 plants

  • Each tower has a height of 1.83 m with a 0.58 m2 footprint

    • Total footprint of 11.8 m2 for all 20 towers

    • 76 L of water required per tower

    • 1514 L of water needed for all 20 towers

    • Growth time: 3 weeks for most plants

    • to begin yielding




  • Tower Garden

  • Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs included:

    • Chamomile, cilantro, chives, celery, cumin, dill, Echinacea, parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, flax, lavender, fennel, lemon grass, mint

      • Arugula, beans (lima, bush, pole, shell, fava, green), garbanzo beans, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale, leeks, melons, okra, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers (red, green, yellow, Chile, jalapenos), strawberries, lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, squash, eggplant, cabbage

  • Potatoes

  • 6.69 sq. m.

  • Yields 8.17 kg per day

  • Grown on aeroponic shelves instead of

  • tower gardens




  • NASA and Orbital Technologies developed High-Efficiency Lighting With Integrated`AdaptiveControl (HELIAC) system

Power requirements for HELIAC system: 72kW for the entirety of our agriculture

  • NASA study finds 80% red, 20% blue LED ratio most efficient for plant growth

Gravity radiation requirements


Gravity & Radiation Requirements

  • The maximum dose of radiation allowed for terrestrial flora is about 0.01 Sv/day.

    • No adverse effects are caused

    • Maintains population level

    • Much higher tolerance than that of humans

  • Low-gravity conditions are beneficial to plant growth

    • Positive gravity allows for correct plant orientation

    • Ease of watering and maintenance

    • Faster growth rates

Waste management


Waste Management

Waste management1


Waste Management

  • In order to be sustainable, all nutrients must be recycled into the system

  • Wastewater must be filtered to provide usable drinking water, and solid waste must be composted to provide nutrients for agriculture and algae

Waste management2


Waste Management

  • Diluted urine is an effective crop fertilizer

  • Unlike feces, urine is effectively sterile when it leaves the body and does not require composting

  • A no mix toilet will be used to prevent feces from contaminating the urine

  • Urine and solid waste will be processed separately

Waste management3


Waste Management

  • Some urine will be used in fertilizer and the rest will be sent to wastewater filtration to recover drinking water

  • The brine leftover from filtration will be used to accelerate the compost of solid waste

  • Non edible portions of plants, leftover food, and any biodegradable trash will be composted

Waste management4


Waste Management

  • Hyperthermophilic bacteria will be used to compost solid waste into fertilizer

  • High temperature greatly reduces processing time, helps degrade harder proteins, and kills viruses and bacteria pathogenic to humans

Waste management5


Waste Management

  • Heaters will be used to ensure the compost maintains a constant temperature of 80˚ C

  • A rotating fin agitates the compost to enable aerobic decomposition

  • A condenser attached to the air exhaust returns water to the compost to maintain water content

  • A single .01 m3 fermentation vessel can process roughly 3 kg of waste in about a week

  • 10 of these systems will be used for all waste processing

Water management


Water Management

  • Utilize ECLSS Water Recycling System from the ISS (95% efficient)

  • Able to recycle waste water from

    • Urine

    • Oral hygiene and hand-washing

    • Condensing humidity from the air due to agriculture and humans

  • Steps:

    • Filter removes particles/debris

    • Water passes through filters for organic/inorganic impurities

    • Catalytic oxidation reactor removes volatile compounds/kills bacteria and viruses

Water budgets


Water Budgets

Note: This does not include requirements for water ballast

Life support pods


Life Support Pods

  • 2 pods with 3 floors each

  • Each floor is 2.67 m in height

  • 55.4 m2 per floor

  • Algae (2 floors+shelves) – 144 m2

  • Agriculture (1 floor+shelf) – 30 m2 + Tower Gardens

  • Freezer, food, and general storage (2 floors) – ~ 500 m3

Agriculture pod


Agriculture Pod

LED’s –

80% Red

20% Blue




Life support pod


Life Support Pod



Life support pod cont


Life Support Pod (cont.)

Walking space

(main floor)


Practicality analysis


Practicality Analysis

Break Even Points for Regenerative Systems

Summary of life support


Summary of Life Support