Certification of Vapor Phase Hydrogen Peroxide Sterilization Process for Spacecraft Application 2002-01-2471
In order to meet the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) planetary protection microbial reduction requirements for all Mars in-situ life detection and sample return missions, entire planetary spacecraft (including planetary entry probe and planetary landing capsules) may have to be exposed to a qualified sterilization process. Presently, dry heat is the only NASA approved sterilization technique available for spacecraft application. However, with the increasing use of various man-made materials, highly sophisticated electronic circuit boards, and sensors in a modern spacecraft, compatibility issues may render this process unacceptable to design engineers and thus impractical to achieve terminal sterilization of entire spacecraft. An alternative vapor phase hydrogen peroxide sterilization process, which is currently used in various industries, has been selected for further consideration. This paper describes the selection process and research activities JPL is planning to conduct for certification of hydrogen peroxide as a NASA approved technique for sterilization of various spacecraft parts/components and entire modern spacecraft.