A spaceship built from a hollowed-out asteroid and able to sustain the lives of many generations of manned crews while crossing the abyss in between stars in an is engineered by Delft Tech. The ESA has been called upon by the project to develop the life support of such a spacecraft, as the space agency said in a statement. The results, MELISSA project aims to ease up interstellar travel.
DSTART, staffed by TU Delft, is working on a broad array of fields to perform groundbreaking concepts for a heavy-duty interstellar spaceship. The objective is not just to concentrate on the required technology but also to take into account the social and biological issues at stake in such a major voyage.
“We need a self-sustaining and evolutionary space technology capable of withstanding the many decades needed to travel from one solar system to another,” said DSTART head, Angelo Vermeulen.
“As part of that, we are studying the type of regenerative life support system promoted by the ESA-led Alternative Micro-Ecological Life Support System (MELISSA).
The MELISSA project for the future asteroid-spaceship capable of a long interstellar travel
The project, supported by 11 countries, aims to construct a sustainable system, based on a complex natural water ecosystem, to effectively turn CO2 and organic debris into oxygen, water, and nutrients.
A demo of the MELiSSA project, found at the University of Barcelona, has a hermetically sealed multi-compartment circuit with a reactor fueled by algae that produce oxygen to maintain the proper living conditions. As the algae yield oxygen and capture carbon dioxide, the crew would do the opposite, exactly.
“The MELiSSA concept gives the spacecraft its basic life support,” said Angelo, who was the Commander during the NASA’s Mars HI-SEAS simulation, which was based in Hawaii.
The DSTART team will introduce the initial version of the MELiSSA project at the AgroSpace-MELiSSA workshop, which will be held in Rome, Italy, during the next month. In the end, their aim is to achieve an asteroid-spaceship able to sustain life for a long time enough to reach in distant places in the Universe during an interstellar travel.