Life Sciences Research Facility Automation Requirements and Concepts for the Space Station 860970
The Advanced Programs Office in the Life Sciences Division at Ames has performed a survey and analysis of hardware and operational requirements necessary for supporting plant and animal research onboard the Space Station. This research may be conducted internal to a dedicated pressurized module, distributed among several modules, and on external platforms and free flyers. Hypothetical experiments have been defined and integrated into 90 day missions to allow analysis of crew activities and timelines, resource requirements (e.g. power, weight, and volume), equipment layouts, and alternative levels of equipment automation. Where these analyses have shown critical areas for automation, conceptual designs have been developed to evaluate feasibility. To stay within current Space Station resource allocations, approximately 85% of the planned life science experiment tasks must be automated. The overall objective of automation is to use the available crew for research tasks instead of housekeeping and servicing tasks. Primary candidates for automation include specimen care and feeding, cage and instrument cleaning, data acquisition and control, sample analysis, waste management, instrument calibration, materials inventory and management, and janitorial work. Priority tasks for the crew include specimen manipulation, tissue sampling, data interpretation communication with ground-based investigators, and experiment management. A majority of the LSRF equipment functions already planned for automation are in the same category as those routinely automated in unmanned spacecraft. Habitat food and waste handling is the critical area for increased automation, but will require additional volume, mass, and a significant development effort.