Space log: Understanding life support systems aboard China’s space station

Life support systems, which regenerate air, water and other resources, are crucial for the sustainable operation of China’s space station, an Astronaut Center of China official said.

China has five such systems at the space station. One is for gas regeneration and purification, including the removal of carbon dioxide and harmful gases. Others include water electrolysis to make oxygen, urine treatment, the collection of condensate water and water treatment.

The three Chinese astronauts, or taikonauts, need about 11 to 12 kilograms of water per day, currently 90 percent of which can be generated by the regenerative systems, said the deputy chief designer of the astronaut systems.

If three taikonauts stay in orbit for a year, they would need 83 oxygen cylinders weighing 2.2 tonnes, and 130 emergency carbon dioxide purifiers weighing 2.2 tonnes.

Therefore, the regenerative life support systems play an important role.

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