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Introduction

Many advances in space technology that have been made by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), military and national security organizations, and commercial space projects have been applied to subsequent, unrelated missions. However, in the United States, the technologies unique to supporting humans in space are unlikely to be developed outside of NASA. For example, advances in computing, electric power production, energy storage, communications, guidance and navigation, and structural analysis are essential to virtually all types of spacecraft. But technologies for recycling oxygen from carbon dioxide, for example, are crucial only to long-duration, crewed space missions. This means that significant improvements in human support technologies are unlikely to be made in time to meet NASA's long-term goals unless they are nurtured and advanced by NASA.

The statement of task for the study is provided in Appendix A. The findings and recommendations in this report have been organized in the following way. The Executive Summary provides a summary of the most important recommendations. In Chapters 2 through 5, which deal with each of the four programs that comprise the Advanced Human Support Technology Program, the findings and recommendations are grouped into eight categories. They are:

  • high-priority areas for technology research and development (R&D)
  • relationships between the research program and the success of future NASA missions
  • program objectives and milestones
  • overall scientific and technical quality
  • program requirements


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1 Introduction Many advances in space technology that have been made by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), military and national security organizations, and commercial space projects have been applied to subsequent, unrelated missions. However, in the United States, the technologies unique to supporting humans in space are unlikely to be developed outside of NASA. For example, advances in computing, electric power production, energy storage, communications, guidance and navigation, and structural analysis are essential to virtually all types of spacecraft. But technologies for recycling oxygen from carbon dioxide, for example, are crucial only to long-duration, crewed space missions. This means that significant improvements in human support technologies are unlikely to be made in time to meet NASA's long-term goals unless they are nurtured and advanced by NASA. The statement of task for the study is provided in Appendix A. The findings and recommendations in this report have been organized in the following way. The Executive Summary provides a summary of the most important recommendations. In Chapters 2 through 5, which deal with each of the four programs that comprise the Advanced Human Support Technology Program, the findings and recommendations are grouped into eight categories. They are: high-priority areas for technology research and development (R&D) relationships between the research program and the success of future NASA missions program objectives and milestones overall scientific and technical quality program requirements

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program direction and organization synergism with other programs dual-use technologies Chapter 6 presents the general findings and recommendations of the report. Background The Advanced Human Support Technology Program resides in the Life Sciences Division of the NASA Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications (OLMSA). The program includes advanced life support systems (ALS), advanced environmental monitoring and control (EMC), advanced extravehicular activity systems (EVA), and space human factors engineering (SHF). These four programs are loosely connected by the common thread of human support but vary greatly in their technology development, scheduling, and funding challenges. OLMSA was created in March 1993 from three divisions (life sciences, microgravity sciences and applications, and flight systems) of the Office of Space Sciences and Applications (OSSA). The Life Sciences Division has selected and sponsored most of the ground-and space-based biomedical and biological research funded by NASA since scientific research was initially performed on the Space Shuttle in the mid-1980s. This division is also responsible for planning the life sciences research that will be carried out on the International Space Station (ISS) beginning in approximately 1999. Although it has funded the development of some new technologies to help enable biological and biomedical research in space (such as new sensors), the development of new technology was not a major emphasis of the program until the Advanced Human Support Technology Program was established. The Advanced Human Support Technology Program is unusual in OLMSA because its primary emphasis is on developing technologies to support humans in space rather than on basic scientific findings. Until 1993, almost all of OLMSA's projects in technology development were directly related to conducting specific experiments or sets of experiments in space. In 1993, additional responsibilities for developing advanced technologies related to supporting humans in space were transferred from another NASA office, which was called the Office of Advanced Concepts and Technology (OACT). (This office was subsequently reorganized into a new unit called the Office of Space Access and Technology [OSAT], which was disbanded in 1996.) The Memorandum of Understanding spelling out the transfer of new responsibilities to OLMSA is included in Appendix B. Unlike many other NASA technology development efforts, the OLMSA Advanced Human Support Technology Program is not tied to specific large NASA programs that have been approved for future development (such as a hypothetical new mission to the Moon or Mars). OLMSA is the smaller of two offices responsible for NASA's Human Exploration and Development of Space

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(HEDS), one of NASA's four enterprises. The other is the Office of Space Flight (OSF). The HEDS Enterprise is briefly described in the 1996 NASA Strategic Plan (NASA, 1996b) and in more detail in the HEDS Strategic Plan (NASA, 1996a). Its goals are to: increase human knowledge of nature's processes using the space environment explore and settle the solar system achieve routine space travel enrich life on Earth through people living and working in space The present systems and technologies that support human life on the Space Shuttle, as well as those being developed for the ISS, are the responsibility of the OSF. (The OSF is responsible for virtually all aspects of the Space Shuttle and ISS programs, with the exception of the selection of the scientific or other research that will be carried out on board.) One aspect that merits special mention is that OSF is responsible for operating and developing the life support, environmental monitoring, EVA suit, and SHF hardware and for applied research programs directly associated with the operation of the Space Shuttle and ISS programs. Thus, within NASA and the HEDS Enterprise, NASA's near-term program and operational needs in the area of human support are the responsibility of OSF. The long-term needs are the responsibility of OLMSA. When this study began, the responsibility for advanced EVA suits had recently been transferred to the Johnson Space Center (JSC); management for the other three programs remained at NASA headquarters. This was the situation throughout the time of the study, despite indications that program management responsibilities for all four programs would be shifted to one or more NASA centers.1 For fiscal year 1996 (FY96), the NASA Life Sciences Division budget is about $140 million—about 1 percent of NASA's budget. The areas of interest to the committee within the Life Sciences Division budget were funded at about $22 million in FY96. Of the $22 million, about $16 to $17 million was allocated to ground-based research and development and about $5 to $6 million was allocated to flight (i.e., space-based) experiments dedicated to mitigating risk in the systems being developed for the ISS. A summary of recent funding of the ground-based projects of the four human support programs is shown in Figure 1-1. Approach In 1995, OLMSA requested that the National Research Council (NRC) undertake a study of the four areas of the Advanced Human Support Technology Program. The NRC Committee on Advanced Technology for Human Support in Space was chartered to assess the status of technologies in these areas as well as 1    Since this study was completed, much of the transition of program control from NASA headquarters to NASA centers for the four human support programs has been accomplished.

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Figure 1-1 Budgets for the advanced human support programs. Source: NASA. NASA's research and development (R&D) efforts that support human life in space on long-duration missions. The committee was also asked to make recommendations for potential improvements in the areas of concern (see Appendix A for the Statement of Task). The first meeting of the committee was held March 27 and 28, 1996. The meetings of the committee and its subcommittees are listed in Appendix C. Brief biographical sketches of the committee members are provided at the end of the report. NASA and the nation currently have no formal plan to send people beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). Therefore, for purposes of this study, the committee drew on the 1996 NASA Strategic Plan and the 1996 NASA Human Exploration and Development of Space Strategic Plan in setting a time frame for technology preparedness. From 1997 to 2002, the ISS is scheduled to be assembled, and ISS partners anticipate operating the station for at least 10 years after assembly is completed. Thus, the committee identified 2010 to 2020 as an appropriate, approximate time when new technologies to meet the needs for human missions beyond LEO will be required. The committee reviewed the findings and recommendations of a number of previous relevant reports during the course of the study, and these reports are listed in the bibliography. The committee also requested input from several companies that develop technology for human support in space and greatly appreciates the time and thought invested in their responses, which were very helpful to the committee in its deliberations. The letter sent to these companies is included in Appendix D.

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Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications Advanced Human Support Technology Program The stated purpose of the Advanced Human Support Technology Program is to "provide leadership and technologies to support humans in their exploration of the cosmos." The four OLMSA human support programs are either new or have been recently reoriented based on earlier OSAT or OLMSA activities that predate the partial transfer of responsibilities from OSAT. The goals of these programs are briefly described below. Advanced Life Support Program The current ALS program is the result of combining the OLMSA Controlled Environment Life Support System (CELSS), which began in the late 1970s and focused on biological methods of life support, with OACT-funded research projects, which focused on physical/chemical methods of life support. Goals and objectives of the new program are based on using both biological and physical/ chemical methods. The goal of the ALS program is to provide self-sufficiency in life support for productive research and exploration in space, for benefits on Earth, and to provide a basis for planetary exploration (Fogleman, 1996). Advanced Environmental Monitoring and Control Program The advanced EMC program was started by OLMSA in 1994 as a technology development program. OLMSA has a related environmental health program that focuses on scientific research. The goals of the EMC program are: to determine the requirements for EMC systems aboard future human spacecraft to obtain state-of-the-art, revolutionary technologies for spacecraft EMC to provide mature, tested environmental monitoring technologies for use in flight systems to provide the benefits of NASA-developed EMC technologies to U.S. industry and to improve human welfare (Schmidt, 1996) Advanced Extravehicular Activity Systems The OLMSA responsibility for advanced work in EVA systems was transferred from OACT and is currently managed by the Advanced EVA R&D branch of the OSF-led EVA Project Office at JSC. The responsibility of the program, as presented to the committee, is to "provide vision and leadership for advanced EVA R&D . . . manage R&D for advanced EVA systems, training, and support

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equipment . . . manage [R&D for a] next generation spacesuit . . . and manage human physiology [and human factors] research needed for EVA" (Rouen, 1996). Space Human Factors Program The OLMSA SHF program is based on the 1993 merger of OLMSA and OACT responsibilities in this area. The current program consists almost entirely of projects selected from proposals submitted in response to NASA Research Announcements. OLMSA has a related program that funds scientific research on behavior and performance as part of OLMSA's overall biomedical research program. The goals of the SHF program, as explained to the committee (Ellison, 1996), are: to expand knowledge of human psychological and physical capabilities and limitations in space through basic and applied research, tests, and evaluations to develop cost-effective technologies that support integrating the human and system elements of space flight to ensure that mission planners use human factors research results and technology developments to increase mission success and crew safety to make NASA technology available to the private sector for Earth applications or to use appropriate new technologies developed by private industry Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications Work at NASA Centers Work is funded by the four human support programs at five NASA centers: JSC; Ames Research Center (ARC); Kennedy Space Center (KSC); Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC); the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); as well as a number of non-NASA laboratories. The responsibilities of each NASA center are summarized in Table 1-1. Johnson Space Center According to the 1996 NASA Strategic Plan, JSC is the primary center for the HEDS Enterprise. Work performed at JSC is part of the OLMSA (long-term) and the OSF (current and near-term) sponsored programs. OLMSA-sponsored work at JSC includes major projects in ALS that feature the Early Human Testing Initiative as well as plans to test large, quasi-closed systems. OLMSA also funds advanced EVA work at JSC and projects in SHF. JSC manages the OLMSA-funded work in advanced EVA as part of its overall management of all NASA work on EVA systems. Work at JSC in the same general areas is also supported

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Table 1-1 OLMSA-Sponsored Research in Human Support at NASA Centers NASA Center ALS SHF Engineering Advanced EMC Advanced EVA Suits and Systems Relevant Non-OLMSA Work Johnson Space Center primary center primarily ''operational'' research and support mostly OSF-sponsored primary center significant research and operations in ALS, EVA, EMC and SHF Ames Research Center bioregenerative and P/C research primarily "fundamental" research relevant work under the ALS program most work ended in 1996 in aeronautics human factors Kennedy Space Center bioregenerative no no no very little Marshall Space Flight Center developing flight tests on the Space Shuttle no relevant work under the ALS program no in life support systems, including technology for ISS Jet Propulsion Laboratory no no yes no very little Number of Projects at non-NASA Labs (FY96) 9 8 12 1 NA

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by OSF as part of the Space Shuttle and ISS programs. This includes significant work in EMC, which is not directly supported by OLMSA. Ames Research Center Current work on human support at ARC is in the areas of ALS and SHF. The ALS work is wide-ranging, with more emphasis on waste recovery and waste management than at the other centers, and includes work on both physical/chemical (P/C) and bioregenerative systems. Work on SHF is associated with larger projects related to aviation human factors, and funding by OLMSA is based solely on the merit of individual proposals. ARC also has a significant history of developing technology for EVA suits and systems, but this work was being phased out at the time of the study. Kennedy Space Center Work at KSC includes the development of ALS systems and a long-term program to maximize the growth of plants in closed environments. KSC's work focuses on plant research and related technologies, such as nutrient delivery systems and lighting systems, that will be particularly applicable and relevant to growing plants in space. Marshall Space Flight Center MSFC performs OSF-sponsored work for the life support systems for the ISS. MSFC staff have also assisted in planning the flight programs sponsored by OLMSA's human support programs. OLMSA is also sponsoring MSFC-led work to perform risk reduction flight tests of ALS subsystem technologies on the Space Shuttle. Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL is currently conducting OLMSA-sponsored R&D in EMC and is partially responsible for managing that program. Working with NASA headquarters and JSC staff, JPL staff have led the development of the EMC requirements document. Long-term Plans for Human Exploration NASA has no official plans to send humans beyond LEO in the near future. From approximately 1998 to 2002, the ISS will be assembled in LEO, about 250 miles above the surface of the Earth. NASA plans call for operating the ISS for 10 years after assembly has been completed, until at least 2012. The following

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section discusses planned space activities that are relevant to current and anticipated activities of the Advanced Human Support Technology Program. The Space Shuttle has been in operation since 1981 and is the only U.S. launch vehicle planned to be used in conjunction with the ISS. NASA currently plans to use the four Space Shuttle orbiters until at least 2012, and possibly longer. Other U.S. launch vehicles that could carry crews to orbit have been proposed, but so far none has been approved for development. NASA believes the next-generation launch vehicle will be developed by U.S. industry and will be based on NASA's current and near-term work on reusable launch vehicles. Although the objective of many planned scientific missions is to improve our understanding of planetary science, these missions can also add to our knowledge of the Moon and Mars in ways that could be relevant to future human missions. For example, water is critical to the survival of humans. Information about the apparent presence of ice in a permanently shaded area at the lunar south pole or information about the presence of water, in the form of permafrost, below the surface layer of soil on Mars (water is known to exist on the polar ice caps of Mars) will affect future technology decisions. For the next decade, NASA plans a series of robotic missions to the Moon, Mars, and selected asteroids. All of these missions will use smaller spacecraft than the large planetary spacecraft launched in the 1970s (e.g., Viking) or spacecraft begun in the 1980s (e.g., Galileo). The new spacecraft will be less expensive than their predecessors, will have new or unique capabilities, and will broaden the information base pertaining to future missions. The approved mission to orbit the Moon (Lunar Prospector) is scheduled for launch in 1997. But no new NASA spacecraft are currently in development to land on the Moon. NASA plans to send several spacecraft to Mars over the next few years. Some of these spacecraft will only orbit Mars, while others will actually land on the surface of Mars. The first two spacecraft are scheduled to arrive at Mars in the latter half of 1997. Mars Pathfinder is a lander with a rover, and Mars Global Surveyor is an orbiter that will carry six of the eight instruments flown on the Mars Observer spacecraft (which was lost en route to Mars in 1993). A human mission to Mars may be facilitated by resources extracted from the Moon. The Moon could be a site for testing technologies for a Mars mission, as well as a site from which to stage a future mission to Mars. If hydrogen and oxygen are available in the form of water ice, both ingredients necessary for rocket propellants would be present on the Moon. The 1996 NASA Strategic Plan describes NASA's long-term goals for the human exploration of space. Figure 1-2 is a summary chart from the 1996 Strategic Plan. From 2003 to 2009, NASA will continue to focus its efforts in human space flight on operations in LEO, i.e., the Space Shuttle and the ISS. From 2010 to 2020 and beyond, NASA proposes to conduct international human missions to planetary bodies in our solar system. Presumably, the first destination beyond

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Figure 1-2 Long-term for the human exploration of space. Source: NASA 1996b.

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LEO would be the Moon, and the next destination would be Mars, but this sequence is not certain. According to the 1996 NASA Strategic Plan (NASA, 1996b): We will establish a lunar base for scientific research and the development of the Moon's resources. Scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs from around the world will be able to use the Moon for research and to test new technologies not only for their commercial possibilities, but also for their application to Mars. As the enterprise progresses, we will eventually send the first international team to Mars and return them safely to Earth. Some space enthusiasts have advocated going directly to Mars without revisiting the Moon. The argument against going directly to Mars is primarily that a short-or long-term stay on the Moon might provide insights into requirements for a mission to Mars. The Moon is about 250,000 miles away, a journey of four days from Earth. Mars, at its closest point, is almost 150 times more distant, about 35 million miles from Earth, a journey of at least several months in each direction. The Russian space program has shown that individual stays in space of more than 400 days are possible. However, missions with a minimum of about 600 days (which would be necessary for a round trip to Mars)2 with a full crew and no rotation or resupply are well beyond today's technical capabilities. The 1996 NASA HEDS Enterprise Strategic Plan is more explicit than the overall NASA Strategic Plan about the goals and objectives for exploration but not about the timing of future missions. The HEDS document states that closed life support systems might be validated on the ISS or on the Moon and that related technologies and systems will be "developed and tested to demonstrate long-term reliability and dramatically lower operating costs." On the basis of the information in these plans and for the purposes of this study, the committee has used 2010 to 2020 as the target time for using new technologies for human support beyond LEO. (The committee assumed that improved human support technologies for LEO missions would be useful at any time.) In the absence of more explicit projections from NASA, the committee has taken 2010 to 2014 as the general time frame for the launch of a human mission to the Moon and 2015 to 2020 for a human mission to Mars. Both missions are assumed to be of indeterminate duration, i.e., the committee has not arbitrarily decided whether the mission will involve staying on the surface for a few days or if the first mission will be the start of a permanent, or near-permanent, stay on either body. However, in keeping with NASA plans, the committee recognizes the eventual need for technologies that can support long-term stays on the surface of the Moon or Mars. 2    Sample scenarios for short-duration and long-duration human missions to Mars are provided in America at the Threshold: America's Space Exploration Initiative (Stafford et al., 1991).

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References Ellison, June. 1996. Space Human Factors (SHF) Program Mission Statement. Presented to the Committee on Advanced Technology for Human Support in Space, at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., March 27, 1996. Fogleman, Guy. 1996. Presentation by NASA Life Sciences to the ASEB Advanced Human Support Committee. Presented to the Committee on Advanced Technology for Human Support in Space, at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., March 27, 1996. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). 1996a. NASA's Enterprise for the Human Exploration and Development of Space—The Strategic Plan. Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications. Washington, D.C.: NASA. NASA. 1996b. NASA Strategic Plan. Washington, D.C.: NASA. Rouen, Michael. 1996. Proposed NASA EVA Organization and Management. Presented to the Committee on Advanced Technology for Human Support in Space, at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., March 28, 1996. Schmidt, Gregory. 1996. Advanced Environmental Monitoring and Control Program. Presented to the Committee on Advanced Technology for Human Support in Space, at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., March 27, 1996. Stafford, Thomas P., et al, 1991. America at the Threshold: America's Space Exploration Initiative. Washington, D.C.: White House Office of Science and Technology Policy .