Development of an In-Flight Refill Unit for Replenishing Research Animal Drinking Water 941283
The Spacelab Life Sciences 2 (SLS-2) mission became NASA's longest duration Shuttle mission, lasting fourteen days, when Columbia landed on November 1, 1993. Located within the Spacelab were a total of 48 laboratory rats which were housed in two Research Animal Holding Facilities (RAHFs) developed by the Space Life Sciences Payloads Office (SLSPO) at Ames Research Center. In order to properly maintain the health and well-being of these important research animals, sufficient quantities of food and water had to be available for the duration of the mission. An Inflight Refill Unit was developed by the SLSPO to replenish the animals' drinking water inflight using the Shuttle potable water system in the middeck galley as the source of additional water.
The Inflight Refill Unit consists of two major subsystems, a Fluid Pumping Unit (FPU) and a Collapsible Water Reservoir (CWR). The FPU provides the system measurement and controls, pump, water lines, and plumbing necessary to collect water coming into the unit from the potable water systemand pump it out and into the RAHF drinking water tanks. The CWR is a Kevlar™ reinforced storage bladder, connected to the FPU, which has a capacity of 6 liters in its expanded volume and functions to store the water collected from the potable water system and allows for the transport of the water back to the Spacelab where it is pumped into each of two RAHFs. Additional components of the IRU system include the inlet and outlet fluid hoses, a power cable for providing 28 volt direct current spacecraft electrical power to the pump within the FPU, a tether system for the unit when in use in Spacelab, and an adapter for mating the unit to the orbiter waste collection system in order to dump excess water after use in Spacelab.
This paper will present the design process and development approach for the Inflight Refill Unit, define some of the key design issues which had to be addressed, and summarize the inflight operational performance of the unit during the SLS-2 mission.