1992-07-01

Conceptual Design of ECLSS Microgravity Test Beds 921164

Optimal design of spacecraft environmental control and life support systems (ECLSS) for long-duration missions requires an understanding of microgravity and its long-term influence on ECLSS performance characteristics. This understanding will require examination of the fundamental processes associated with air revitalization and water recovery in a microgravity environment. Short-term testing can be performed on NASA's reduced gravity aircraft (KC135), but longer tests will need to be conducted on the shuttle or Space Station Freedom (SSF).
Conceptual designs have been prepared for ECLSS test beds that will allow extended testing of equipment under microgravity conditions. Separate designs have been formulated for air revitalization and water recovery test beds. In order to allow testing of a variety of hardware with minimal alteration of the beds themselves, the designs include storage tanks, plumbing, and limited instrumentation that would be expected to be common to all air (or water) treatment equipment of interest. In the interest of minimizing spacecraft/test bed interface requirements, the beds are designed to recycle process fluids to the greatest extent possible. In most cases, only cooling water and power interfaces are required.
A volume equal to that of two SSF lockers was allowed for each design. These bed dimensions would limit testing to equipment with a 0.5- to 1.5-person-equivalent throughput. The mass, volume, and power requirements for the air revitalization test bed are estimated at 125-280 kg, 1.0-1.4 m3, and 170-1070 W. Corresponding ranges for the water recovery test bed are 325-375 kg, 1.0-1.1 m3, and 350-850 W. These figures include individual test articles and accompanying hardware as well as the tanks, plumbing, and instrumentation included in the bed designs. Process fluid weight (i.e. water weight) is also included.

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