Controls and Automation Research in Space Life Support



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49th International Conference on Environmental Systems


A highly controlled and automated life support system has long been a NASA goal. It is usually assumed that life support for future long duration missions will use physical/chemical recycling systems that substantially close the oxygen and water circulation loops. Such a tightly coupled life support system has been thought to require an overall supervisory control system to minimize crew operation and maintenance activities. The International Space Station (ISS) Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) was at first expected to have supervisory control and automation. After this was found infeasible during the design of the ISS ECLSS in the early 1990’s, it was then expected that the ISS or future mission systems would be upgraded to meet the original expectations. Since then NASA has extensively researched life support system controls and automation. Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have gone through several cycles of enthusiasm and neglect before their recent great achievements, and NASA life support interest has similarly varied. Since the ISS ECLSS was launched, its on-board operational problems have led NASA to deemphasize system level controls and automation in favor of improving subsystem reliability and maintainability. Recent work has investigated supervisory control for a system similar to the ISS ECLSS. This paper reviews past planning and work on the supervisory control of closed, integrated physical/chemical life support systems similar to the ISS ECLSS and its precursors dating back to the 1960’s.


Harry Jones, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA
ICES404: International Space Station ECLS: Systems
The 49th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 07 July 2019 through 11 July 2019.


life support, life support control, life support automation