PFPU – Microgravity Precursor Food Production Unit Development Status and Life Test Results



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2024 International Conference on Environmnetal Systems


Several technical issues have been identified thus far in relation to the development, implementation, and operations of food production systems for space applications. These issues encompass food quality prediction, food safety, integration strategy, microbial contamination, humidity, and nutrient delivery management. Therefore, considering the number of issues and their respective criticalities, it is important to approach the cost-conscious development of a food complement production unit for space application in a step-by-step manner, utilizing a modular technological demonstrator. The Plant Food Production Unit (PFPU) is a study that focuses on developing a modular food complement production unit demonstrator. Its objective is to achieve statistically representative production of edible tuberous plants in microgravity. This study is conducted within the MELiSSA framework under a contract with the European Space Agency. Thales Alenia Space Italia leads an Italian and Finnish consortium in carrying out the study. Over the past two years, the PFPU systems breadboard has been designed, constructed, and extensively tested at both the system and subsystem levels. This testing included life tests involving the cultivation of various types of plants such as lettuce and potatoes. This paper provides an overview of the current development status of PFPU, presents key results from the test campaign (including the executed life tests), and outlines the associated roadmap for future developments.


G. Boscheri, Thales Alenia Space Italia, Italy
T. Fili, Thales Alenia Space Italia, Italy
G. Marchitelli, Thales Alenia Space Italia, Italy
A. Pannico, Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy
L.G. Duri, Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy
S. De Pascale, Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy
C. Paille, European Space Agency, The Netherlands
ICES204: Bioregenerative Life Support
The 53rd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, on 21 July 2024 through 25 July 2024.


Greenhouse, Higher Plants, BLSS, Bioregenerative, Life Support, MELISSA, Food Production