21 Oct Strategic performance assessment for ESA’s MELiSSA Project
Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering (IVA) 2011
The Micro Ecological Life Support System Alternative (MELiSSA) was first initiated by Claude Chipaux at Matra’s Space Branch in 1986 as a potential life support system project for the French Space Agency, CNES. An initial MELiSSA experiment was on board a Chinese Long March rocket in 1987. This two compartment flight experiment, utilising two bacterial strains producing and consuming CO2 and O2 respectively, led to MELiSSA’s first publication in 1988.
MELiSSA is today tasked with creating a regenerative life support system with the following functions: black water and grey water treatment, urine treatment, other waste treatment (= overall waste recycling from astronauts), food production, oxygen production and water recycling (= overall consumption needs of astronauts). These functions are divided into engineering units, tested separately and then integrated and tested together on the ground. Individual units or parts thereof are being tested in spaceflight and there are plans to test the overall system in spaceflight in the 2030s.