The Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) is a system of regenerative life support hardware that provides clean air and water to the International Space Station (ISS) crew and laboratory animals through artificial means.
The creation of the ECLSS allows for the accommodation of more crew on the Space Station, extends the time crew can stay in space, and significantly reduces the cost of operating the Space Station.
According to NASA: The ECLSS consists of two primary parts:
- Water Recovery System (WRS)
- Oxygen Generation System (OGS)
The WRS provides clean water by recycling crewmember urine, cabin humidity condensate, and Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) wastes. The reclaimed water must meet stringent purity standards before it can be utilized to support the crew, laboratory animals, EVA, and payload activities.
The OGS produces oxygen for breathing air, as well as replaces oxygen lost as a result of experiment use, airlock depressurization, module leakage, and carbon dioxide venting. The OGS primarily consists of the Oxygen Generation Assembly (OGA) and a Power Supply Module. Oxygen is generated at a selectable rate and is capable of operating continuously and cyclically.
Long-duration missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond require an Environmental Control and Life Support System to have increased performance, reliability, and resiliency while still meeting mission safety requirements and remaining within volume, mass, power, cooling, and crew-time constraints.
Consequently, there is a Commercial ECLSS, which is believed to be an improved alternative to the baseline ECLSS technology used on the International Space Station.
By combining new technologies developed and matured by Honeywell, Precision Combustion, Giner, and Paragon, the Commercial ECLSS addresses multiple capability and reliability gaps for the long-duration crewed missions described by NASA.
This is important, because with higher oxygen and water recovery rates, a spacecraft utilizing the Commercial ECLSS is reported to require minimal-to-no resupply mass, which translates to significant cost savings over the course of long missions.
Want to learn more? Tonex offers Fundamentals of Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), a 2-day course where participants learn the fundamental principles and challenges of maintaining a habitable environment in space.
Participants also analyze and design ECLSS systems for different space missions and habitats as well as evaluate the performance and efficiency of various subsystems within an ECLSS.
For more information, questions, comments, contact us.