The European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have launched a joint call for contributions to collect ideas for implementing the concept of ‘circular economy’ and technologies and sustainable processes in space. The deadline is 1 March 2022 at midnight.
The European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have launched a joint call for contributions to collect ideas for implementing the concept of ‘circular economy’ and technologies and sustainable processes in space.
While actual human settlements on the Moon and the Mars are still to come, the fundamentals of living in space are already clear. To make such bases sustainable over the long term, astronauts and potential settlers will have to recycle their air, water and nutrients as much as possible to minimise their reliance on long, costly supply lines back to their distant home planet.
The principal aim of the joint call is to seek out concepts targeting the reuse and recycling of water, food, oxygen, nitrogen and other scarce resources from apparent waste material. Alongside their application possibilities in space, these solutions should also be applicable to Earth as they create synergies with terrestrial initiatives towards a circular economy.
The underlying idea behind this concept is not new. For example, the International Space Station already recycles all the water it can, including crew urine, sweat, moisture from wet towels, and even the humidity from astronauts’ breathing. And for more than three decades now, the ESA-led Micro-Ecological Life Support Alternative, MELiSSA, programme has investigated the designing of ‘regenerative’ or closed loop life support systems for crewed missions into deep space.
ESA and EIC have selected four dedicated challenges:
- Circular System Design Methodology
- Circular Waste Management
- Circular Urine Management
- Circular Food Management
for which they are looking for ideas for critical technology building blocks, policy, legislation and investment frameworks. Jointly, EIC and ESA will evaluate contributions and the winning contributors will be invited to a workshop, which aims to produce a joint strategy proposal for the coming decade.
More details on the submission process and challenges are provided in the letter of invitation which can be found at https://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/business_with_esa/EIC_ESA_Call_for_Contributions_rev7_final.pdf
The deadline for submissions closes on 1 March 2022 at midnight.