The Life Support and Habitation Systems Focus Area seeks key capabilities and technology needs encompassing a diverse set of engineering and scientific disciplines, all of which provide technology solutions that enable extended human presence in deep space and on planetary surfaces, such as Moon and Mars. The focus is on those mission systems and elements that directly support astronaut crews, such as Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), Extravehicular Activity (EVA) systems, plant growth for bioregenerative food production, and radiation tolerant avionics and control systems. Because spacecraft and their systems may involve multiple partnerships, with institutional, corporate and governmental involvement, Model Based Systems Engineering approaches may enable and improve their distributed development.
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. New technologies must be compatible with attributes of the environments we encounter, including microgravity or partial gravity, varying atmospheric pressure and composition, space radiation, and the presence of planetary dust. Technologies of interest are those that enable long-duration, safe, economical and sustainable deep-space human exploration. Special emphasis is placed on developing technologies that will fill existing gaps as described in this solicitation, that 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. Spacecraft may be untended by crew for long periods, therefore systems must be operable after these intervals of dormancy.
Environmental Control and Life Support Systems encompass process technologies and monitoring functions necessary to provide and maintain a livable environment within the pressurized cabin of crewed spacecraft, including environmental monitoring, water recycling, and atmosphere revitalization. These processes and functions include recovering resources from or repurposing gaseous, liquid and solid wastes. Unique needs exist for the Extra-vehicular Mobility Unit’s (EMU) pressure garment and Portable Life Support System (PLSS). These include targeted improvements to the Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment (LCVG) along with new capabilities, including a regenerable trace contaminant control system, a thermal loop bypass relief valve capable of re-calibration, and a robust feed water supply assembly. Outside of the protection of the Earth’s magnetosphere, radiation in deep space will be a challenge. However, within the shielded environment of human spacecraft and habitats, non-critical electronic systems may be able to use commercial off the shelf (COTS) rather than expensive radiation hardened parts.
The current collaborative environment between government, commercial and international sectors will result in the distributed development of human spacecraft elements and systems for human missions of the future such as Gateway and lunar surface missions including Artemis. Their integration may benefit from advances in model based systems engineering approaches.
Please refer to the description and references of each subtopic for further detail to guide development of proposals.