ALS-Integrated Food/Fiber Production and Packaging System for Long-term Space Mission to Mars 2004-01-2522
This is a concept paper to help outline a roadmap for planning research and development efforts that could lead to a realistic and workable food system for long-term space travel. The paper describes a proposed system by which sufficient food and fiber can be provided for a six-person crew on a 3-year round trip mission to Mars with only a 9-month supply initially brought on board. The proposed system will also integrate with other advanced life support (ALS) subsystems in a number of synergistic ways. Rationale for this paper stems from the belief that a system based upon “backpacking” a 3-year supply of all consumables for lift off onboard the vehicle (while compacting, storing and returning with all the resulting waste and trash) will neither be technically nor economically feasible. What is proposed, instead, is a “regenerative” system based upon the concept of lifting off with a reasonably limited quantity of consumable resources that can be continually recovered, recycled, regenerated and reused throughout the duration of the mission. The paper will attempt to address the potential technical feasibility of each subsystem component and its integration with other ALS subsystems, as well as identify examples of potential researchable questions toward which research funding should be directed.