1988-07-01

Conceptual Design of a Piloted Mars Sprint Life Support System 881059

This paper presents the conceptual design of a life support system sustaining a crew of six in a piloted Mars sprint. The requirements and constraints of the system are discussed along with its baseline performance parameters. An integrated operation is achieved with air, water, and waste processing and supplemental food production. The design philosophy includes maximized reliability considerations, regenerative operations, reduced expendables, and fresh harvest capability. The life support system performance will be described with characteristics of the associated physical-chemical subsystems and a greenhouse.
MANNED MISSIONS TO THE PLANET MARS are included in the present NASA plans for the first decade of the next century [1]*. The first step of human exploration and eventual settlement on Mars will probably be a series of fast missions (“sprints”), with a duration of just over one year, round trip [2]. Those missions will constitute a new problem for the life support system design, because no other mission has been flown, or will be flown in the near future, with such a long duration of time during which no resupply of consumables is possible. Regenerative operations will have to be used extensively for the reduction of the amounts of water, hydrogen, and oxygen to be carried in storage aboard the spacecraft.
This paper is an attempt to analyze and conceptually design the life support for such a mission, down to the level of the particular physical-chemical subsystems involved; the Space Station-type hardware has been chosen when applicable as a basis for the analysis.
It has been assumed that for such sprint missions, an extensive use of bio-regenerative life support (encompassing air, water, and food/waste processing by plants) would not be adopted. However, the implications of having a small-size greenhouse aboard the spacecraft have been considered and analyzed in terms of its interface with the overall life support system. Further implications, such as the need for microbiological control at the humans/plants interfaces, are presented in a companion paper [3] on bio-isolation.

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