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Life Support and Habitation Systems


Focus Area 6: Life Support and Habitation Systems


Participating MD(s): STTR


The Life Support and Habitation Systems Focus Area seeks key capabilities and technology needs encompassing a diverse set of engineering and scientific disciplines, all which provide technology solutions that enable extended human presence in space. Functions include Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Systems, Advanced Food Technology and Biological Life Support.

Habitation systems encompass process technologies, equipment and monitoring functions necessary to provide and maintain a livable environment within the pressurized cabin of crewed spacecraft, including human accommodations, atmosphere revitalization, water recycling, waste management and resource recovery. Vehicle outfitting provides the equipment necessary for the crew to perform mission tasks as well as provide a comfortable and safe habitable volume. A capability for integrated system health management for these sustainable habitats is of interest. Providing cost effective, efficient and reliable carbon dioxide removal for human space applications has been a challenge, with improvements applicable to both Spacecraft ECLSS and EVA portable life support systems. Furthermore, as we consider human missions to planetary surfaces, such as to Earth’s moon and to the surface of Mars, new technologies may be required that are compatible with attributes of these environments, including partial gravity or reduced pressure atmosphere. Needs for EVA also include development of tinting and coatings for spacesuit visors and considerations for commercial space suit systems.


For future crewed missions beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) and into the solar system, regular resupply of consumables and emergency or quick-return options will not be feasible. Technologies are of interest that enable long-duration, safe and sustainable deep-space human exploration with advanced extra-vehicular capability.  Special emphasis is placed on developing technologies that will fill existing gaps, reduce requirements for consumables and other resources, including mass, power, volume and crew time, and which will increase safety and reliability with respect to the state-of-the-art.  Biological systems, including plant growth systems and microbial bioreactors may be useful to regeneratively recycle wastes into consumables, including fresh foods, chemicals and new materials for in situ manufacturing. A system for preparing fresh fruits and vegetables for use in meals is also of interest, including washing and disinfection.

Please refer to the description of each subtopic for further detail to guide development of proposals.

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