Developing the Water Supply System for Travel to Mars



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46th International Conference on Environmental Systems


What type of water supply system should be developed for Mars transit? The two basic approaches are providing only stored water, which is done for brief missions such as Apollo and shuttle, or recycling most of the water, appropriate for very long missions such as the International Space Station (ISS). Stored water is inexpensive for brief missions, but its launch mass and cost become very large for long missions. Recycling systems have much lower launch mass and total cost for long missions, but they have high initial cost and are more expensive to operate than storage. A Mars transit mission would have an intermediate duration of about 450 days out and back. Since Mars transit is about ten times longer than a brief mission but probably less than one-tenth as long as ISS, it is not clear if stored or recycled water would be best. Any recycling system design is complicated because water is used for different purposes, drinking, food preparation, washing, and flushing the urinal, and because waste water is produced in several forms, humidity condensate, dirty wash water, and urine and flush water. The uses can have different requirements and the waste water resources have different contaminants and processing requirements, so that the most cost-effective water system may be a mixed system that recycles some waste water sources and provides the remaining needed water from storage. Different water system architectures and systems are compared using mass, cost, reliability, and other factors.


United States
NASA Ames Research Center
ICES506: Human Exploration Beyond Low Earth Orbit: Missions and Technologies
Vienna, Austria
Harry W. Jones, NASA Ames Research Center, USA
Lance D. Delzeit, NASA Ames Research Center, USA
John W. Fisher, NASA Ames Research Center, USA
Mark H. Kliss, NASA Ames Research Center, USA
Michael T. Flynn, NASA Ames Research Center, USA
The 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Vienna, Austria, USA on 10 July 2016 through 14 July 2016.


Mars water system, Mars transit, recycling life support