Life Test Validation of Life Support Hardware in CONCORDIA Antarctic base 2004-01-2352
Given the constraints of the current launchers, manned exploration beyond LEO implies long time missions, a high mass of metabolic consumables and consequently regenerative life support technologies developments. To validate their efficiency, as well as their reliability, these technologies need to be tested in the most analog conditions (i.e. isolation, limited spare part, …). A large number of these conditions are met in the new permanent French-Italian settlement called Concordia, currently being built in the Antarctic continent.
Over the last 15 years, ESA developed regenerative life support technologies. Two of these technologies: a Grey Water Treatment Unit and a Black Water Treatment Unit are currently assembled at the size of 15 to 70 persons to fulfill the Concordia crew needs The first technology is a multi step filtration system and will recycle the shower, washing machine, dish washer and cleaning water. The second technology, issued of MELiSSA project development, is composed of three bioreactors and will be used to process the fecal material, the urine and the kitchen wastes generated by the crew. The process is structured in three steps: a liquefaction, a methanogenic and a nitrifying step. Liquid effluents from this unit will then be further treated by the GWTU to produce hygiene water.
The long-term life tests of these technologies will allow ESA to test regenerative life support technologies in the most realistic conditions. Technical parameters (i.e. efficiency, reliability,..) as well as human factors issues (i.e. psychology) will be continuously studied.