Opportunities for Lunar Surface Environmental Control and Life Support Systems in a Space Resources Context



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2024 International Conference on Environmnetal Systems


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its Artemis Accords partners are focused on a return to the Moon with gradual advancements towards achieving a sustained lunar presence, while enabling the human exploration of Mars (Goodliff et al., 2023). One such advancement is through the demonstration of space resource utilization technologies which may lay a foundation for a burgeoning lunar-based economy. Gradual technological advancements through the demonstration of space resource extraction, processing, and consumable delivery systems provide an opportunity for a parallel reduction in logistical dependencies for habitation environmental control and life support systems (ECLSS). While consideration has been given to the possible economic benefits of lunar-derived water, oxygen, and/or hydrogen for propulsion systems, assumed usage of regenerative life support systems have led to reduced consideration of consumables that would enable human habitation. Upon comparing the risks and opportunities of an initial habitation customer for lunar-derived resources, logistical benefits appear to dominate in the early human return to the Moon while enabling incremental technology advancements that support a developing lunar-based economy. Significant mass, power, volumetric, and crew time savings could be yielded through a space-resource optimized life support architecture as evidenced in a comparison for lunar-based ECLSS architectures. Consumable demands, interface needs, and supporting pilot-scale space resource concepts make a case for greater integration between lunar ECLSS design and space resource advancements during the initial phases of humankind's return to the lunar surface.

Reference: Goodliff, K. E., Merancy, N. F., Bhakta, S. S., Rucker, M. A., Chai, P. R. P., Ashurst, T. E., ... & Stromgren, C. (2023). Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate (ESDMD) Moon-to-Mars Architecture Definition Document (No. ESDMD-001). National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


James E. Johnson, Colorado School of Mines, USA
ICES501: Life Support Systems Engineering and Analysis
The 53rd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, on 21 July 2024 through 25 July 2024.


Life Support Systems, In-situ Resource Utilization, Lunar Exploration, Logistics, Spacecraft Design