Environmental Control and Life Support

When humans embark on a space mission, they continue to need food, water and oxygen. For short duration missions in low Earth orbit - on board the International Space Station, for example - the majority of the consumables are embarked at launch or re-supplied in orbit.
For longer duration missions - the establishment of permanent bases on the lunar surface or travel to Mars for exploration - it is neither economical nor practical to re-supply basic life support elements from Earth. ESA is developing systems to recycle waste into the essential supplies of food, water and oxygen whilst removing undesirable components from the air.
A life support system that would perform these regenerative functions is the goal of the MELiSSA Project. Such a system would be a tightly controlled, closed ecosystem in which the processing of waste materials would contribute to the missions life support requirements.
ESA's expertise in producing efficient, compact, low mass and low maintenance systems is being exploited to ensure that the MELiSSA project is ideal for use in the limited space craft environment.
Last update: 18 November 2007

Related links

 •  ESA Exploration Programme