Study for a Rigid/Inflatable Greenhouse Module to Integrate Bio-regenerative Life Support Systems into Orbital Facilities and Deep Space Transfer Vehicles.



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51st International Conference on Environmental Systems


A recurrent issue in concepts for future Deep Space Transfer Vehicles (DSTVs) and space habitats is the needing of a large provision of consumables necessary for crew's vital sustainment during prolonged missions without any external supply. The integration of ecological bio-regeneration into the environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) seems now an appropriate solution to reduce the amount of storage, favoring a circular economy of vital elements. The goal is a closed loop of oxygen, water, and food through recycling and regeneration of a given quantity, reducing the dead mass of consumables stored for backup and emergency supply only. The concept of Bio-regenerative Life Support System (BLSS) has been extensively tested by ESA, NASA and Roscosmos since the late 1980s. Projects like MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) financed by ESA has been tested both in ground facilities as fully closed biological lifecycle and in a series of orbital spaceflights, testing system's performance in conditions of microgravity. However, the reduction of consumables in term of dead mass, using a closed-loop paradigm, can come at a cost. Increased system complexity, greater energy usage, and more possible failure modes are all possible consequences of BLSSs. This paper explores the feasibility for a hybrid rigid/inflatable module based on the Cygnus cargo module by Northrop Grumman Space Systems, assumed as standard module for the Cislunar Gateway station. The expandable module would host an experimental greenhouse for plants, microalgae's photo-bioreactors, and necessary BLSS hardware, adding capability to the ECLSS of the station. Its scope is to test in extended conditions of microgravity the capability of food production, carbon sequestration, oxygen regeneration, humidity condensation, waste processing and wastewater recycling of the BLSS, increasing the habitable volume of the station and introducing an element of tangible natural bond with the home planet for crew's psychological support.


Paolo Caratelli, Abu Dhabi University, AE
Maria Alessandra Misuri, Abu Dhabi University, AE
Rowdha Begam Mohamed Hanifa, Abu Dhabi University, AE
ICES502: Space Architecture
The 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US, on 10 July 2022 through 14 July 2022.


Rigid/inflatable greenhouse module, Bio-regenerative Life Support System, Cislunar Gateway station