Automated Carbon Formation Reactor Facilitates Closed-Loop Oxygen Recovery to Enable Long-Duration Manned Missions


The vast majority of space vehicles and habitats have been launched and operated by nations for scientific and exploratory purposes. Consequently, their form has been shaped by the constraints posed by the scientific and diplomatic needs of the mission as well as the physical limitations of their launch and operation. These constraints have resulted in a homogenous appearance of space architecture, with either a single monolithic hull or a central, cylindrical axis with branching, pressure-cylinder modules. Recently, an influx of private investment in space has resulted in low-cost access to orbit and an emerging space services economy that has in turn led to a surge of interest in commercial space habitat design. With an increasingly diverse pool of spaceflight participants, the design of these future space habitats must evolve past the ‘orbital laboratory’ to instead accommodate a wide range of participants and reasons for spaceflight.

This work presents a space habitat assessment methodology and systematically reviews space habitat concepts throughout modern history, including flight-proven spacecraft, ideas from NASA competitions over four decades, technical workshops, industry concepts, terrestrial analogues, and notable, credible designs from science fiction. Ninety concepts were collected and characterized based on figures of merit such as pressurized volume, occupancy, location, structural geometries, and purpose. From this broad search, gaps between current capabilities and future-leaning designs are identified for research and development. Broad categories of trends and opportunities are identified for the space architecture community–namely, determining the technologies needed to enable the next generation of space habitats. This paper presents the foundation of a space architecture database collected from concepts across the field, analyzes the resultant technology gap, and proposes R&D workstreams for meaningfully democratizing access to space via in-space infrastructure that can scale up habitat occupancy.


Mary Powell, pH Matter LLC, USA
Chris Holt, pH Matter LLC, USA
Paul Matter, pH Matter LLC, USA
Travis Hery, pH Matter LLC, USA
Toby Baumgartner, pH Matter LLC, USA
Jacob Goldman, pH Matter LLC, USA
Carolyn Weiser, pH Matter LLC, USA
Charlie Wiswesser, pH Matter LLC, USA
Elek Kayuha, pH Matter LLC, USA
Makenzie Holt, pH Matter LLC, USA
ICES302: Physio-chemical Life Support- Air Revitalization Systems -Technology and Process Development
The 52nd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Calgary, Canada, on 16 July 2023 through 20 July 2023.


Carbon formation reactor, Series Bosch, Oxygen recovery, Life support loop closure, Continuous automated operation