Questions tagged [life-support]

Questions about life support systems in use on spacecraft, space stations, extraterrestrial colonies, or simulated extraterrestrial environments, about their function, design, effectiveness, historical references, or any other considerations regarding their use in space exploration.

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How much algae would you need to fully support a person?

Recently, I saw a video on Cody'sLab, where an “algae panel” was constructed. This is set up like a solar panel and uses algae to convert light and air into food and oxygen. This got me wondering how ...
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Is there any reason that we have not sent a small mammal to Mars? [duplicate]

It seems like much could be learned in this way but it seems like only orbital missions have had non-human life onboard. I could actually see NASA decide not to send a mouse and certainly not a dog/...
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How can you get nitrogen and carbon enough to make air (after adding oxygen and reacting the carbon with oxygen to form carbon dioxide) on the moon?

I'm working on a moon base for a project and I need to make air. I know that you can get oxygen and hydrogen by electrolysing water which is present in abundance on the moon. I need to mix nitrogen, ...
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How does SpaceX plan to supply or recycle respiratory gasses?

If Starship carries 100 passengers to Mars, they will consume about 6 metric tons of oxygen and produce about 10 tons of CO2 on each leg of the trip. Much more if they exercise. CO2 could be converted ...
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How did the Carbon Dioxide gauges work on Apollo?

The book Lost Moon by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger had this interesting description in Chapter 10 (page 254 in my copy) regarding the CO2 gauges (emphasis added): Carbon dioxide concentrations in ...
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Where exactly are the Apollo space suit sublimators venting steam into space? is there a photo of an astronaut in space that shows the opening?

This excellent answer to How have space suits dissipated the heat removed from astronauts? shows a diagram including the sublimator unit in the red square where the phase transition of water from ...
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Why were Bion 6, Bion 7 and Bion 9 launched at the times they were? Was it related to thermal management for their living cargo?

An answer to Have any living organisms been intentionally launched into polar orbits? says (in its entirety currently): Yes. The highest inclination orbit with animals I could find are Bion 6, Bion 7 ...
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12 votes
4 answers
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Cyanobacteria as Life Support?

I'm aware that cyanobacteria are responsible for the Great Oxidation Event and are very effective at turning CO2 into oxygen so it stands to reason that with the proper nutrients for the bacteria, you ...
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19 votes
1 answer
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Astronauts make a lot of CH₄ and some H₂ as well; do space capsules and space stations have systems to remove these?

While not as much as ruminants, humans emit methane, CH4, natural gas, etc. regularly. While it is less known, we can also emit hydrogen as H2. What are the sources of molecular hydrogen in human ...
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Most energy efficient food production for sustainable human life support

Say you want to build a base on a place where conventional food deliveries from Earth would be very expensive. What will be the most energy efficient food that could feed humans in the long term (...
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How is CO₂ scrubbed from the air in a space vessel?

Within a space vessel such as the ISS for example, how do the astronauts regulate the level of CO₂ they are breathing and how is the air scrubbed exactly?
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How are the Archival Samples of water on the ISS handled?

This answer includes this schematic showing the overview of the water processing system on the ISS, found on page 341 (page 375 of the pdf) of The International Space Station - Operating an Outpost in ...
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Is the silica gel used in the ISS recycled?

I read this answer which raises the question of what happens to the silica gel used in the ISS once it has absorbed humidity. The ISS relies on silica gel to absorb humidity from the atmosphere to ...
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What typically gets sent to the ISS?

I'm working on a project that aims to understand what is needed to live in space. I understand the basic concepts and vital items needed, but I'd love to see a direct example of what is already being ...
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3 votes
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How fast were Apollo atmosphere composition reverted back to sea-level atmosphere?

Apollo spacecraft used a pure oxygen atmosphere while in space and an atmosphere with 60% oxygen at launch time. This chapter describes how the atmosphere composition varied from 60% to 100% oxygen in ...
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Have military rations ever been supplied to crews in space?

Most space food has been specially designed preserved food to meet concerns specific to space flight. Has any space program supplied MREs or other rations from their military for astronauts?
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What effects did the different air pressure and air composition in certain spacecraft have on astronauts?

The Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, and in space the Apollo spacecraft, didn't pressurize their cockpits to 1 atm with Earth-like atmospheric composition; instead, they used pure oxygen at much lower ...
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31 votes
1 answer
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Was the Apollo 13 CO2 problem a matter of capacity, or of rate?

During Apollo 13, an explosion in the service module caused the command module to lose electrical power. This required using the environmental control system of the lunar module to remove carbon ...
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How much nitrogen did Skylab and the Space Shuttle carry for atmosphere makeup?

This comment below Where there any spacecraft with nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, but without a system for nitrogen replenishment? mentions: Both Skylab and shuttle had N2 tanks for atmosphere makeup. ...
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Were there any spacecraft with nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, but without a system for nitrogen replenishment?

When watching the Vintage Space video Apollo’s Flammable Oxygen Atmosphere Explained, I started to think: was there ever any spacecraft proposed with nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, but without a system ...
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How long could the ISS function if removed from Earth orbit?

Suppose the ISS were instantaneously moved to the opposite side of the Sun from Earth - how long would it continue to function? Are there any systems aboard that depend on passing behind the planet ...
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18 votes
2 answers
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What did the Apollo missions do with old LiOH canisters & the water they produced?

We all love the Apollo 13 story, but the famous lithium hydroxide CO2 scrubber of that mission has made it hard for me to find information about its regular use. What happened to the old canisters ...
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3 votes
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What is the most massive object in the ISS whose position was altered by the circulating air?

In Leo S's comment to the question, Do astronauts develop the ability to regularly place an object at rest inside the ISS after extended periods in microgravity?, he said "forces due to circulation of ...
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How exactly is the balance of minerals handled on ISS with the use of reclaimed (demineralised) water for human consumption?

This question and answers to it contain wealth of information regarding recycling of ISS resources, and water is one of them. Water, recycled from water waste, atmosphere moisture and urine, is ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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ISS Life Support Consumable use rate

At what rate does the International Space Station, (ISS), consume life support resources and other consumables? I'm attempting to calculate long term life supoprt requirements for a system based on ...
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6 votes
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Why do spacesuits have air in the body? [duplicate]

Wouldn’t it be easier to make a space suit that only maintains air around the head, and just has a “tight” insulated and shielded suit around the body? It seems to me the reasons we need a space ...
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13 votes
1 answer
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Reentry without pressure suits in Apollo: was there a formal risk assesment?

In Apollo 11 Flight Journal the following is stated: The crew will make re-entry without suits or helmets on. Although this was a controversial decision on the first Apollo flight, Apollo 7, when the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Algae Bioreactor for O2 and CO2 (and food?) - Any data on required size and power requirements?

I believe that the requirements for a single persons $\require{mhchem}\ce{O2}$/$\ce{CO2}$ balance run somewhere in the region of $8m^2$ of algae, which would seem to be possible in a single $\approx ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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Why doesn't the ISS have more oxygen generators?

According to this article, the O2 reclamation on the ISS is capable of producing about 2kg of O2 per day. However, crews need slightly more than this. What is preventing NASA/Roscosmos/anyone else ...
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26 votes
4 answers
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Are there types of animals that can't make the trip to space? (physiologically)

I thought about what kind of animals could make it to space, and I thought about how vertebrates can apparently withstand the G forces need to travel to the ISS, but I hadn't really thought about ...
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1 answer
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How many people could the ISS support?

How many people can fit on the ISS? At what person would life support be overwhelmed?
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2 votes
2 answers
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Do current plans for people going to Mars by SpaceX depend only on consumables loaded from Earth?

Do current plans for people going to Mars by SpaceX depend only on consumables loaded from Earth or do they also include obtaining some materials from Mars fairly soon after arrival? Does the plan ...
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Would a space station be able to watch a world wide cataclysm and how long would the crew be able to survive for? [closed]

I know there is other questions with similar concerns about there being any protocols in pace if the crew of space station were to witness a world wide cataclysm and the survivability of the crew if ...
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18 votes
1 answer
4k views

How did humans grow plants on the Moon despite the harsh conditions?

The Chang'e 4 lander contains seeds to grow plants on the Moon. The Moon has non-sustainable life conditions. Among those are the lack of water, atmosphere, the varying extreme temperatures, the low ...
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3 votes
2 answers
206 views

Pressurized Organic Oxygen Pods

Human waste could be used in a hydroponics facility to grow algae in space or Mars in pressurized tanks, and the photosynthesis can be used to convert CO2 to breathable oxygen. A carbon dioxide ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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How long would a stranded Apollo crew have survived on the Moon?

If the Apollo ascent vehicle hadn't been able to take off from the Moon, how long was the crew expected to have survived? And what would the likely natural cause of death be? I've heard that partial ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Does ISS get a surplus of oxygen or water?

[overhauling the question to get rid of misconceptions, which were irrelevant anyway] In the balance of input/output of the system ISS is, I spotted something that looks like build-up of stockpile of ...
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67 votes
4 answers
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Could we breathe an atmosphere that is not nitrogen based?

As I understand it, the important part of Earth's atmosphere that we breathe is the oxygen. However, Earth's air is only about 21% oxygen with the rest made up of about 78% nitrogen and 1% other gases,...
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What was the coverage of the Yuegong-1 (Lunar Palace-1) experiment in terms of life-support?

The Yuegong-1 (Lunar Palace-1) experiment in China aimed at evaluating bio-regenerative life-support systems, and crew psychology. Some reports explain: Liu Hong said the test marks the longest ...
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12 votes
2 answers
478 views

How does the sabatier system reduce water shipments to the ISS?

So I thought I'd answered my own question (How close is the ISS to a closed system?), but I just realized there's a missing piece. This is the chemical equation for how hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon ...
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How close is the ISS to a closed system, in terms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen?

I found this diagram of the ISS ECLSS material flow and noticed the $CO_2$ being vented off the station. source Now, I understand this is outdated since they added a Sabatier reaction system to ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Why did Apollo 13 need to scrub the air in the LM?

One of the dramatic moments of Apollo 13 (in real life, not just the movie) was when they had to build scrubbers for the LM ("fit the square peg in a round hole"). Why did they have to do that? The ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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How big is a human's space bubble?

How big is a human's (space) bubble - in other words: how far could we (as mankind) transport a human being from Earth in such a way that the being would be still alive? (Let's not consider returning.)...
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7 votes
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Did the Soviet TMK crew have any chance of survival with the knowledge and technology of its era?

In response to the United States announcement of manned moon landing plans, the Soviet Union announced the TMK program. This program would have sent manned missions to Venus and Mars. The original ...
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4 votes
1 answer
394 views

Artificial planet

If we have discovered artificial gravitational force, will we be able to create an artificial habitable planet in our solar system? E.g., if a rotating cylindrical object in space can produce ...
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27 votes
2 answers
11k views

How many times has there been 13 people inside the ISS and is it hard on the station?

I just saw this photo in @SF.'s answer it is ISS023-E-023513 STS-131 and Expedition 23. The full caption is below. Are there really 13 people on the ISS at one time? Is STS-131 the only shuttle ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Any potential downside to throwing personal life support out the door on the Moon?

I found this really interesting description of the ALSEP instrumentation placed on the moon during the Apollo 11 landing, written by Hamish Lindsay, (also, author of Tracking Apollo to the Moon). One ...
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18 votes
3 answers
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Could a spacecraft be made out of wood?

Could a spacecraft use organic materials, like wood or bone or shell or other tissues, as an interface to the vacuum and radiation of space? Would wood outgas and crack up in space? I wonder if life ...
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12 votes
2 answers
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What limits how long spacecrafts like Orion, Dragon, Starliner can support their crews' lives?

The next generation crewed spacecrafts is about to fly in the decade of 2020. Not only those in the headline here are trying to make it, but more are being developed privately and internationally. ...
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What is the mass of the Cabin Air Rack of the Quest Joint Airlock?

And where should I have looked for this information? The mass of the avionics rack would also be nice.
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