The Virtual Habitat – Optimization of Life Support Systems
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Definition and design of the optimal Life Support System (LSS) becomes one of the most important drivers for the long term manned space mission. Optimization studies must be considered already during early stages of LSS design. The Virtual Habitat tool provides a solid platform for performing such studies. The Virtual Habitat (V-HAB) is a tool for dynamic simulations of LSS currently being developed in the Technical University Munich (TUM). With V-HAB it is possible to establish dynamic LSS models of whole habitats including all LSS physio-chemical technologies, bio-regenerative components and crew members. For these simulated habitats it is possible to perform different studies to assess closure of the system, its stability and controllability. The functionality of V-HAB was demonstrated simulating theoretical LSSs (potential Mars mission hybrid LSS) and more importantly real ones (LSS of the International Space Station (ISS)). Optimization of LSS is not a trivial task. One must consider variety of possibilities to combine technological as well as biological LSS components to achieve the defined task of providing a living environment for crew members. However, proposed LSS design variants differ widely in total mass, stability and other parameters, and may include more or less biological components. To select the most optimal design the optimization criteria need to be selected carefully. This paper discusses the selection of an appropriate optimization criterion and the approach for defining the optimal LSS. For the optimization criteria the Equivalent system mass and scientific crew time are proposed. Modification directions of LSS architectures are presented and plausibility of those is demonstrated. Additionally, necessary updates of V-HAB simulation to support optimization studies are presented.