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extraterrestrial colonies, or simulated extraterrestrial environments, about their function, design, effectiveness, historical references, or any other considerations regarding their use in space exploration.

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59
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4answers
13k views

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,...
59
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3answers
6k views

Washing clothes in space: are there any technical challenges?

Currently, the ISS is resupplied with fresh clothes from the Earth. I remember reading a report on NTRS stating that the requirements for fresh clothes proved to be much higher than expected. Thus, ...
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7answers
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Why is the breathing atmosphere of the ISS a standard atmosphere (at 1 atm containing nitrogen)?

The Wikipedia page for the International Space Station says that it has a fairly Earth-like, sea-level atmosphere: 21% oxygen, balance nitrogen at 101.3 kPa. Supposedly it's because a pure-oxygen ...
43
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1answer
5k views

Why vent $CO_2$ and $H_2$ waste products to space on ISS?

In this answer, it's mentioned that waste $CO_2$ and $H_2$ from the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) are vented into space from ISS. Are there no other uses for this material ...
38
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4answers
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Are there any safety procedures in place on the ISS in case of puncture?

The ISS is a huge (relatively) satellite which, according to NASA, is longer than a football field. I am curious about what would happen if the station's skin was punctured - perhaps by a careless ...
25
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4answers
8k views

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 ...
23
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2answers
24k views

Air temperature and humidity inside the ISS

The International Space Station being an artificial habitat for humans; it seems reasonable to assume the air temperature, and humidity levels are maintained at well-defined levels. What are the air ...
22
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4answers
6k views

Oxygen self-supply by plants

Plants produce oxygen, we know. This might make plants useful in the supply system of possible colonies on other planets or moons. But how efficient they are? Which is the maximum amount of oxygens ...
22
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1answer
2k views

Were the Apollo CO₂ scrubber canister designs unified after Apollo 13?

After the problem realized when trying to put up three astronauts for an extended stay in the Apollo 13 LEM, namely that the square CM CO₂ scrubbers didn't fit in the LEM's slots, were they redesigned?...
21
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3answers
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Puncturing space suit during EVA. What would happen?

What would happen, if the space suit of a spacewalking crew was punctured during the extravehicular activity (EVA)? What are the chances of this happening? Has this already happened to anyone in the ...
21
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2answers
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How many times were there thirteen people inside the ISS? 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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2answers
451 views

Is converting moon dust into oxygen a viable option for sustainability?

On the about page for Project Morpheus, the possibility of converting moon dust into oxygen is mentioned: It was manufactured and assembled at JSC and Armadillo Aerospace. Morpheus is large enough ...
19
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How long can a 2 person crew survive on ISS totally cut from Earth?

Something goes bad on Earth, ISS is cut from any kind of supply and the escape pods can't be used. If there are 2 people on board at that time, how long can they survive there? Did someone write a ...
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1answer
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Air in International Space Station

How do astronauts/cosmonauts manage the atmosphere at the International Space Station as their missions are years long, versus shorter flights? Do they recycle? Import via cargo vessels? Electrolyze ...
17
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2answers
4k views

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 ...
16
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1answer
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 ...
16
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1answer
6k views

What would have happened if the skin of an Apollo lunar module was ruptured?

The Apollo lunar module had thin skins of foil for protection / air containment. What would have happened if a hole was made in this skin by a flailing astronaut, screwdriver, asteroid, etc.? Would ...
16
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3answers
2k views

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 ...
15
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2answers
1k views

What would determine the interior temperature of a large space station?

If one calculates the black-body temperature of an object in space, it turns out that it would be at room temperature somewhere between the orbits of Earth and Venus. But due to the greenhouse effect, ...
15
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4answers
4k views

Max g survivable suspended in water?

With something like a coil gun mass driver in mind where the more acceleration the cheaper the design in mind: If you were to suspend the astronauts in a shallow layer of water and horizontally ...
14
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4answers
2k views

Do humans need less calories and water in microgravity?

Astronauts in microgravity don't use their legs much. This has negative health effects in the long run. But I wonder if it doesn't have the good side of lowering human need for food and water and thus ...
14
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1answer
1k views

Could an EVA Suit meant for Mars be used for EVA on another celestial, or vice-versa?

A quick follow-up to What is the power requirement of a spacesuit? The Apollo 11 crew were in a vacuum out on Luna; their space-suits fulfilled the purpose of a basic space-suit about which Wikipedia ...
14
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1answer
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Could the Apollo 13 crew have survived the CO2 issue using their spacesuits

In the book on the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission there is a chapter that contains an overview of the consumables on board the spacecraft, and whether or not they might pose a problem to the survival of ...
12
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2answers
426 views

What work is being done to develop and test artificial gravity?

There are many ways to produce artificial gravitational effects, such as a rotating spacecraft, linear acceleration, or harnessing magnetism. Possibly there are other ways to produce gravity that have ...
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2answers
1k views

What is the most sustainable method of recycling (human) solid waste on a manned space vessel?

After reading and answering James Jenkins's interesting question on wiping in space, I was curious about the usage of solid waste on a manned space vessel. In his question he mentions recycling solids ...
12
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2answers
411 views

What is the optimal selection for a small self sustaining space farm?

There are a multitude of resources about growing food in space, NASA research indicates we have been growing foods in space for years. Colonies in Space by T. A. Heppenheimer seems to have some ...
11
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2answers
361 views

Combatting noise in spacecraft

It is a well-known fact that it is quite noisy aboard the ISS. Fans and pumps working all the time, valves closing/opening etc. Crew members live through it with ear protection, but that doesn't mean ...
11
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1answer
683 views

Could the ISS pressurized elements withstand a full depressurization?

In case of necessity -- for example in case of fire or contamination -- is it possible for any pressurized element of the ISS to be exposed to vacuum? If all compartments and airlocks were to be ...
11
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2answers
341 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 ...
11
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0answers
179 views

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 ...
10
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4answers
2k views

What animals, if any, have reproduced in space?

Have any living animals successfully reproduced entirely in space? If none have, what animals have had the most complete reproductive cycles in space?
10
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3answers
730 views

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 ...
10
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2answers
503 views

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. ...
10
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1answer
247 views

What is the minimum amount of equipment you would need to make a reasonable amount of oxygen on the Moon with Molten Oxide Electrolysis?

MIT Professor Sadoway believes we can make oxygen anywhere on the moon with Molten Oxide Electrolysis (see here and here). Let's assume that you need to make enough oxygen to sustain an astronaut for ...
9
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3answers
6k views

Does the ISS need more heating or more cooling?

While reading the recent question 'Do exercise machines on the ISS generate electric energy?', I got thinking all of the exerciser machines generate heat (heat energy). So yes all exercise machine ...
9
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2answers
391 views

Would the life support systems on the ISS and STS work well also in 1g?

Changing gravity level can be a problem for flows of fluids, gasses, heat and for structural loads. Much equipment designed for Earth gravity fail in microgravity (even light bulbs and ballpoint pens)....
8
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2answers
353 views

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 ...
8
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1answer
3k views

How have space suits dissipated the heat removed from astronauts?

I never thought about this until reading the comments below this answer. To radiate something like 150W (a very conservative lower limit of human + suit systems heat production - see @Uwe 's comment ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Depressurization of a habitat on Mars

Wikipedia lists the atmospheric pressure of Mars to be about 600 pascals, or just 0.6% of Earth's atmosphere. I'm wondering, can anyone shed any light on what that means, in practical terms? ...
8
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1answer
456 views

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 ...
7
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2answers
481 views

Does building a vessel to work in vacuum also make it watertight?

Does building a vessel such that it can maintain a breathable atmosphere in a vacuum (like all our manned space vessels) also makes this vessel watertight? If not, why?
7
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1answer
1k views

Oxygen toxicity vs Apollo mission preparation

In the article on Apollo command module design, I read: The cabin atmosphere at launch was changed to 60% oxygen and 40% nitrogen at sea-level pressure: 14.7 psi (10.1 N/cm2). During ascent the ...
7
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0answers
339 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
1k views

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 ...
6
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2answers
634 views

Is space suit using algae for oxygen production possible?

Current space suits carry oxygen bottles for oxygen and some sort of non-regenerative carbon dioxide scrubbers for removing carbon dioxide. This obviously means that a space suit is only able to ...
6
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1answer
346 views

Does it get cold in a container in space?

The image I have is that if we turn off heating in a space vehicle, the cold will be immense. However, I started figuring in terms of energy levels of particles (which is the temperature) and realized ...
6
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0answers
65 views

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 ...
6
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0answers
118 views

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 ...
5
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2answers
918 views

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 ...
5
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2answers
104 views

Would a biological resource-system be feasible for long-term manned flights?

Supposing a long-term manned flight is planned would a biological resource-system be considered as an option? Would a biological resource-system work or is a technical solution superior? Currently ...