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Space exploration – Life support

Specific challenge:  ISS is the current cornerstone of European activities in human spaceflight. With its assembly now complete, and with several years of operations ahead until 2020 and possibly beyond, ISS should be used to the fullest extent for optimising and broadening the scientific, technological and operational return of Europeans investments. ISS should also be further used as a test-bed for the preparation of future exploration ventures as well as for enabling overall scientific and technological progress and provide benefits to citizens. The selection of these proposals in the area of life support will depend on their suitability for research on-board ISS.

Scope: Prepare for demonstrating technologies, and operations techniques and process, critical for future human missions as well as advancing knowledge related to human spaceflight and terrestrial applications for the benefits of citizens. Proposals demonstrating closed loop regenerative life support system technologies (including for instance modelling of complex microbial or plant-based ecosystem, trace elements, circular dynamic system) for safe production of healthy consumables and in particular food for future manned exploration missions should be proposed to be implemented by leveraging synergies between space and non-space actors (e.g. biotechnology, nutrition, food, controlled agriculture, industrial ecology, health sectors). These on-ground preparatory activities are a prerequisite to potential flight hardware development and activities to be conducted on-board the European Columbus module of the ISS.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 4 and 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: Proposals are expected to prepare the ground for further innovative development of R&D in human spaceflight and future terrestrial applications. Systems are expected to be developed and tested on the ground and demonstrate operational capability (or close to). An important impact is also the potential applicability of these test projects on-board ISS. Results will therefore have to attain the necessary maturity to fulfil this promise.

The results are expected to have a significant impact in stimulating non-space actors' contribution to space exploration. This research topic should attract active participation of researchers in academia and SMEs. The results should be actively disseminated in the relevant scientific publications, as well as towards potential user communities as appropriate.

Type of action: Research and innovation actions