History & Philosophy
Space exploration drives technical ingenuity to its limits, which creates the necessity to invent new approaches of living and working whilst incorporating proven older systems, techniques and methods. This is particularly true concerning human space exploration where the challenges of long-term life support, reliability and safety are vital.
Space exploration has foster the development of new technologies to allow remote and continuous monitoring of the health status of the crew. As often happens, many of those new solutions become of relevance for terrestrial applications.
"In spite of the opinions of certain narrow-minded people, who would shut up the human race upon this globe, as within some magic circle which it must never outstep, we shall one day travel to the moon, the planets, and the stars, with the same facility, rapidity, and certainty as we now make the voyage from Liverpool to New York!"
– Jules Verne
From the Earth to the Moon, 1865
Cutting-edge, insights are gained on how to further realize productive possibilities for Earth’s technical eco-systems, on the basis of on-going space programs and other front-line fields such as engineering, physiology, and psychology. When humans travel beneath the water or into space we must bring our life support equipment along for the journey. For short-term human space missions it is sufficient to bring an ample supply of water, food, air and energy. CO2 and other emissions can be ‘scrubbed’ from the habitat’s atmosphere by advanced internal atmosphere cleaning machines. Wastes are generally stored till return trips. For long term missions like that of to Mars the logistics for resupplying life sustaining materials and removal of wastes becomes another story. At this point in history, regular supplies from Earth are ruled out given the current and near future technical constraints. The first humans living on the inhospitable Martian surface; over the course of two to four year missions, will need ultra-resourceful means and methods to create and sustain a healthy and happy basis from which their lives and missions can succeed.
"The exploration of the planets is now closer to us in time than the exploration of Africa by Stanley and Livingstone."
– Arthur C. Clarke
The Saturday Review, volume 38, 1955
Sophisticated and safe systems for regenerating air, water, food production methods and treatment of wastes are necessary to accomplish this. ESTEE’s approach to Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems is to carefully advance and integrate both the physico-chemical and bio-regenerative systems with the optimum psychophysical programs and interfaces for the people who operate facilities in ordinary and extra-ordinary circumstances. The enterprise is founded to encourage international, intercultural and inter-disciplinary efforts and to advance beneficial applications of innovative man-made eco-technical systems and their operational programs. There is a certain correlation between the challenges facing bio-regenerative life support in closed systems for space habitiation and the challenges we face in our global biosphere.
"The most important decision we’ll have to make about space travel is whether to commit to a permanent human presence on Mars. Without it, we’ll never be a true space-faring people."
– Buzz Aldrin, 2007
At a scale of the current global technical industrial complex, considering an expanding human population and increasing per capita needs, it is evident that Earth’s biosphere can no longer sustainably process and absorb man-made technological pollutants. Declining biodiversity in crucial areas, over-reliance on non-renewable natural resources, destruction of once wild eco-systems with subsequent soil erosion, shows the necessity for making an urgent wake-up call for responsible and realistic human intervention. To accomplish that, an increased, deeper understanding of the situation is required. For researchers working on bio-regenerative life support in closed systems, the small scale volumes and quicker cycling times than those that occur in Earth’s biosphere make it clear that comprehensive, renewable, evolving systems must be designed to enable longer term renewal of water, atmosphere, nutrient re-cycling, the production of healthy food, and safe environmental methods of maintaining the technical structure systems. Developing these technical systems- fully incorporated and in balance with living systems reveals approaches that enable us to work together with our larger living systems in a way that facilitates reciprocal maintenance and longevity.
"Looking at the earth from afar you realise it is too small for conflict and just big enough for co-operation."
– Yuri Gargarin