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Feb. 9, 2006

Katherine Trinidad
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-3749

Tracy Young
Kennedy Space Center, Fla. 
(321) 867-2468

Steve Roy
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(256) 544-0034

RELEASE: 06-061


NASA is preparing to launch an oxygen generation system to the 
International Space Station. The system uses water to generate 
breathable oxygen for crew members. Life support systems like this 
are necessary to support future long-duration missions to the moon, 
Mars and beyond. 

The system was shipped from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, 
Huntsville, Ala., on Jan. 24, and arrived the next day at the 
agency's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The system will be installed in a 
pressurized cargo compartment later this month for a possible May 
launch aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. 

"Delivering this hardware to the space station is a major step toward 
achieving the full potential of the complex," said Mike Suffredini, 
station program manager. "Once complete, the regenerative life 
support system will sustain additional crew members onboard that can 
conduct more scientific research. It also will give us experience 
operating and sustaining a 'closed-loop' life support system similar 
to that necessary for future human spaceflight missions farther from 
Earth," he added. 

The system will also help replace oxygen lost during experiments and 
airlock depressurization. Once activated, the oxygen generation 
system may daily provide up to 20 pounds of oxygen. During normal 
operations, it will provide 12 pounds daily; enough to support six 
crew members. The system will tap into the station's water supply and 
split the liquid into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. The hydrogen 
will be pushed into space, leaving the oxygen for the crew. The 
system is designed to operate with little monitoring. 

"Advancing life-support technology will become increasingly important 
as we pursue missions to the moon and Mars," said Bob Bagdigian, 
project manager at Marshall's Center for the Regenerative 
Environmental Control and Life Support System. 

The oxygen generation system is one of two primary components in the 
station's regenerative environmental control and life support system. 
The other component, the water recovery system, is planned for 
shipment to Kennedy early next year, once testing and design 
modifications are completed. 

The water system is designed to provide clean water by recycling 
wastewater and crew member urine. The recycled water must meet purity 
standards before it is used to support crew, payload and spacewalk 
activities. The recovery systems will be packaged into three 
refrigerator-sized racks for installation in the station's U.S. 
Destiny lab module. 

The station relies on a combination of expendable and limited 
regenerative life support technologies in Destiny and the Russian 
Zvezda service module. The advances made in the regenerative 
environmental control and life support system will help cut station 
operating costs. Less money will be needed to launch fresh supplies 
of air, water and expendable life support equipment to the station 
and return used equipment to Earth. 

The oxygen generation system was designed and tested by Marshall and 
Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International, Windsor Locks, Conn. 

For information about the International Space Station, including crew 
activities, future launch dates and sighting opportunities on the 
Web, visit: 


For information about NASA's Space Shuttle Program on the Web, visit: 



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