A European participation in the U.S. Space Station programme has been the subject of a number of European studies in recent years (Space-lab Follow-on Development, Manned Space Station, Space Station System Study and COLUMBUS).
These activities have been coordinated into the COLUMBUS programme with a Phase A study in 1984, followed by a bridging phase leading into the Phase B to start in late spring 1985.
The Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) for COLUMBUS elements (Laboratory Module, Service Vehicle and Resource Module) has been based on a continued development and improvement of the Spacelab baseline system.
The COLUMBUS Laboratory Module attached to the U.S. Space Station will in general have to function as an integral part of the overall system. This is in particular true for the ECLSS.
A further development of the attached COLUMBUS Laboratory Module into a later free-flyer must also be taken into consideration in the lay-out of the attached version. This in order that the free-flyer concept is a logical and minimum-effort evolution of the attached ECLSS concept. At least no features in the attached configuration shall prohibit a later modification into a free-flyer configuration.
The growth option of the COLUMBUS programme also contains a manned Service Vehicle for typical 6 day round trip missions to coorbiting platforms and spacecraft. The development of the ECLSS for this vehicle should be a continuation of the LM development as far as practical.
The Resource Module serves as the back bone for the ultimate COLUMBUS configuration of an autonomous European Space Station. With a Laboratory Module and a Spacelab 3-segtnent module reconfigured into a Habitat the manned European Space Station could be achieved serviced by the Shuttle, Service Vehicle or Hermes.
This paper discusses the life support system concepts for the COLUMBUS elements of a Space Station, the evolutionary incorporation of advanced hardware to a stepwise closure of the life support system and necessary technology development activities.