Dormancy Should Be Avoided for Mars and Deep Space Recycling Life Support



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49th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Mars is the crucial goal of human exploration beyond the Earth-moon system. The Mars round trip transit vehicle has been expected to use a regenerative Life Support System (LSS) similar to the one on the International Space Station (ISS). It often assumed that the Mars transit LSS will be operated on the outward trip to Mars, placed in dormancy while the full crew explores the surface, and then restored to operation for the return trip to Earth. The major difference between Mars missions and operations in the Earth-moon system is the need for much higher reliability for Mars missions, since rapid resupply of parts and materials or a quick crew return to Earth are not possible. Mars systems must achieve intrinsic high reliability by design, test, failure analysis, and redesign and then increase operational robustness by providing spare parts and redundant systems. Further requiring the LSS to be capable of dormancy and restoration to operation greatly increases the difficulty of design, test, and verification. The process of implementing dormancy and then restoring operation would add significant risk to the mission. Dormancy should be avoided for Mars and can be avoided several ways. First and most obvious, some crew can remain continually on board. If no crew can remain onboard, dormancy can still be avoided if an unused spare LSS is activated for the return trip, rather than restarting the used out bound system. Systems similar to the ISS LSS would have a significant probability of failure on a Mars trip and therefore would require two or three spares. Another full spare LSS could be provided as the return trip system, rather than refurbishing a used LSS.


Harry Jones, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA
ICES305: Environmental and Thermal Control of Commercial and Exploration Spacecraft
The 49th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 07 July 2019 through 11 July 2019.


dormancy, life support dormancy, Mars mission