29.04.2019 Microalgae and photobioreactor fly to the ISS
The further people travel into space, the more important it becomes to assure the supply of food, water and oxygen independently of supply flights.
On the International Space Station (ISS), the experiment "PBR@LSR" will demonstrate over 180 days whether microalgae are suitable as a biological component for hybrid life-support-systems (LSS) in future long-term missions in order to reduce the need for supply bulks. This is expected to happen by recycling CO2 to potentially edible algal biomass, releasing O2 through photosynthesis. Likewise, the influence of the space environment on the microalgae will be investigated. For the first time, PBR@LSR demonstrates a hybrid LSS in space by coupling the photobioreactor with the physicochemical LSR. At the Institute of Space Systems (University of Stuttgart), in collaboration with Subitec GmbH, Chlorella vulgaris cultures were scaled-up for their application in space and prepared for the trip to the ISS. The rocket launch is planned soon.
The experiment PBR@LSR was jointly initiated by the Space Agency in the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart, with Airbus Defence and Space as main contractor for the aircraft hardware.
Picture: Harald Helisch (IRS) harvesting C. vulgaris at Subitec GmbH; Credit:Institute of Space Systems (IRS) - University of Stuttgart