SSI Space Manufacturing 14: Closed Environment Life Support System

International Space Station

Closed Environment Life Support Systems

Dr. William Jewel, Cornell University, and Dr. Lee Valentine, Space Studies Institute
“The Engineering Trade Space for a Robust Closed Ecological Life Support System: A Suggested Technology Road Map”

Dr. Peter Curreri, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and Michael Detweiller, Junction Solutions
“Habitat Size Optimization of the O’Neill-Glaser Economic Model for Space Solar Satellite Production”

Sherwin Gormly, Dynamic Corporation, NASA Ames Research Center, and Michael Flynn, NASA Ames Research Center
“Membrane Based Habitat Wall Architectures for Evolving Structures and Comprehensive Resource Recycle in ‘Homestead’ Stage Space Colony Development”


Taber MacCallum, Paragon Space Development Corporation
“Game Changing Development in ECLSS”

— Learned a great deal from Mir space station
— Very easy to lose sight of what a “phenomenal accomplishment” ISS is
— Learned a great deal about life support systems from ISS
— Reviewing Biosphere 2 experiment that he was a part of
— Took about 4 months to make a pizza in Biosphere 2…making the cheese took a while…
— We’re not ready in terms of life support for years long visits to other worlds…need to make life support reliable for years at a time
— Current state of the art: life support systems are not fully regenerative and they don’t last very long
— At ISS, if things go really wrong, you can come home in half an hour
— if it’s a two-year mission, you need three years to test the life support system.
— If NASA CTO Bobby Braun is serious about technology change, then we need to start building life-support habitats on Earth and test them for the length of actual missions
— cheap and plentiful power will make the job a lot easier

Lee Valentine, Space Studies Institute
“The Engineering Trade Space for a Robust Closed Ecological Life Support System: A Suggested Technology Road Map”

— Designed a system that was tested at Cornell
— Bigelow Sundancer module has sufficient volume to test the life-support unit

Peter Curreri, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
“Habitat Size Optimization of the O’Neill-Glaser Economic Model for Space Solar Satellite Production”

— took a re-look at the Gerard K. O’Neill Peter Glaser economic model for colonies
— why look at it again — very compelling and it solves a lot of problems — global warming, need for resources, save the Earth and save the human species
— inescapable, fundamental approach to an exponentially growing society on a planet with limited resources
— problem with building space solar power satellites is the cost from launching everything from Earth
— O’Neill had the idea to build them with space materials with people living in space
— break even time for large human spheres can range from 23 to 35 years depending upon habitat size…very long time horizon…

Michael Flynn, NASA Ames Research Center
“Membrane Based Habitat Wall Architectures for Evolving Structures and Comprehensive Resource Recycle in ‘Homestead’ Stage Space Colony Development”

— apologized for presenting something that could conceivably occur in our lifetimes…
— need orders of magnitude reduction in the cost of life support systems or we’re not going anywhere…
— membrane water wall concept — membrane based water, solids and air treatment functions that are embedded into the walls of inflatable habitat structures
— need protection from radiation.
— system provides water recycling, air treatment and solids residual treatment and recycling
— provides thermal and radiation shielding as well
— advances in membranes allow for forward osmosis recycling of waste water and solids embedded in spacecraft walls

Q&A Session

Q: What about people getting sick in a closed-loop system?

Valentine: Definitely a concern.
MacCallum: In two years in Biosphere 2, never got any communicative diseases except when a spare part was sent in through an airlock by someone with a cold.