Reliability of Biological Systems Based on CBF Data
The reliability of biological life support systems, critical for long-duration human space missions, has been questioned. We propose that properly engineered biological components are inherently reliable, and support this view with data from nine years of operation of the CELSS Breadboard Facility (CBF) at Kennedy Space Center. Reliability problems in a bioregenerative life support system will generally be caused by support system failures, they will generally not be catastrophic, and the crew will have ample time to respond. Thus, biological system reliability can be good, and the impact of low component reliability would generally be to increase system cost rather than to risk mission failure.