Integrating Hands-on Learning Modules into a Course on Life Support Systems



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2023 International Conference on Environmental Systems


An Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) meets the environmental and metabolic needs of the crew. Specifically, the ECLSS must provide a breathable atmosphere, potable water, food and waste management, and consider the need for crew safety. The system must also remove contaminants from the atmosphere, collect and treat both solid and liquid wastes, and control temperature and humidity. A graduate level course at the University of Colorado Boulder entitled "Spacecraft Life Support Systems" teaches students the first principles behind regenerable and non-regenerable physicochemical ECLSS technologies that have enabled human spaceflight. Students study atmosphere revitalization processes, the means for temperature and humidity control, water reclamation and treatment, waste handling and the reuse of materials, along with food and nutrition. These lessons are put into practice via hands-on learning modules that challenge student teams to explore novel technological approaches to environmental control and life support through computational modeling and simulation or laboratory experimentation. In this paper, these learning modules are described with examples to illustrate the type and range of problems suitable for implementation into a 16-week semester, graduate level course.


James Nabity, University of Colorado Boulder, USA


ECLSS, graduate education, hands-on learning module