Life Support Requirements and Technology Challenges for NASA's Constellation Program 2008-01-2018
NASA's Constellation Program, which includes the mission objectives of establishing a permanently-manned lunar Outpost, and the exploration of Mars, poses new and unique challenges for human life support systems that will require solutions beyond the Shuttle and International Space Station state of the art systems. In particular, the requirement to support crews for extended durations at the lunar outpost with limited resource resupply capability will require closed-loop regenerative life support systems with minimal expendables. Planetary environmental conditions such as lunar dust and extreme temperatures, as well as the capability to support frequent and extended-duration Extra-vehicular Activity's (EVA's) will be particularly challenging. This paper will discuss the NASA Constellation Program missions, phases, and major elements, and will discuss the state of the art technologies used in prior programs such as Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station as a point of reference. New Constellation requirements driving technologies over prior programs and architectures will be discussed, including (but not limited to) lunar “anywhere access”, the construction of a permanently-crewed lunar outpost, growth in lunar crew size over Apollo, EVA requirements, challenges of lunar dust, and significant vehicle weight challenges. Although the Constellation requirements for the lunar mission phase and beyond are still under development by NASA, they will push the technology beyond the current state of the art. These life support technology development needs resulting from new mission requirements and architecture constraints will be addressed and prioritized.