International Space Station Major Constituent Analyzer On-orbit Performance



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46th International Conference on Environmental Systems


The Major Constituent Analyzer (MCA) is an integral part of the International Space Station (ISS) Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS). It is a mass spectrometer-based instrument designed to provide critical monitoring of six major atmospheric constituents: nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor. These gases are sampled continuously and automatically in all United States On-Orbit Segment (USOS) modules via the Sample Distribution System (SDS). The MCA is the primary tool for management of atmosphere constituents and is therefore critical for ensuring a habitable ISS environment during both nominal ISS operations and campout EVA preparation in the Airlock. This paper discusses the performance of the MCA on orbit over the past year, with particular attention to lessons learned regarding the operational life of critical components. Recent data have helped validate design upgrades to the filaments and ion pumps for a new set of orbit-replaceable units (ORUs) – upgrades that were implemented in the last several years for both production and depot overhaul units. The upgrades for the analyzer (ORU 02) are designed to increase expected lifetimes and reliability of these subsystems. Additionally, MCA has generated preliminary data for the detection of ammonia, which expands MCA capability and mission set.


United States
United Technologies Aerospace Systems
The Boeing Company
ICES404: International Space Station ECLS: Systems
Vienna, Austria
The 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Vienna, Austria, USA on 10 July 2016 through 14 July 2016.
Ben D. Gardner, UTC Aerospace Systems, USA
Phillip M. Erwin, UTC Aerospace Systems, USA
Rachel Chladek, The Boeing Company, USA
Chris Matty, NASA Johnson Space Center, USA


Mass Spectrometer, ECLS, MCA