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  Greetings from the International Space Exploration and Colonization Co. (ISECCo). We are a non-profit research organization located in Fairbanks, Alaska. We are dedicated to research and development of space oriented technology. Suggestions to improve this site would be very greatly appreciated; please write.

We would appreciate your visiting our sponsors, who support our efforts with generous donations of both cash and material. Our top sponsor this month is Ray's Rentals.

Closed Ecological Life Support System Research

Space exploration and colonization utilizes a wide variety of complex technologies. When ISECCo first formed in 1988, we examined the many fields of work in search of a subject which would encourage the eventual colonization of space, yet fall within our meager resources. The agricultural sciences for space was (and is!) poorly developed. So we chose to build an advance life support (ALS) agricultural system that will be needed for people to live in space. The technical term is Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS, more commonly known as a Biosphere), which uses bioregenerative techniques to support people. Our goal is developing the technology needed to support people in space and other remote environments, providing all the food, air and water needed (more background).

We are building our CELSS project in a series of steps, designed not only to develop the technology but to enhance our skills in the basics of closed system agriculture. We began with a paper on our initial ideas. Our first experiments were with our garden, which began as a simple garden spot. Our project expanded with the addition of the garden greenhouse, The Garden Circle, a larger greenhouse, the Basement Biosphere and we are now working on Mars Base 0, which is a complete ecosystem designed to provide most of the food needed to support a person (see also diary). Our project will culminate in Nauvik, which will be a mostly closed ecosystem.

General Discussion

Space colonies and colonization including Lunar colonies, Martian colonies, O'Neil space colonies, and space settlements of nearly every kind will need closed ecological life support system (CELSS) technology. Unfortunately, advanced life support systems (ALS) today rely on stored food, air and water for there is no sustainable agriculture for use in space. As a consequence all designs for human operations in space must include hauling 15 pounds of consumables each and every day for each and every person. Even terraforming Mars, Venus, the Moon or other planets (should that ever move from the realm of science fiction to science news) will need biosphere technology, which is very similar to CELSS technology. Certainly (near?) future colonies in space will need to produce their own food, or their growth will be severely curtailed by their import requirements. This applies even if space elevators, tethers or other advanced space transport systems are developed that drastically reduce the transportation costs.

Although the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was mandated by the Space Settlement Act of 1988 to actually move from space exploration toward space colonization in our solar system, science experiments in key areas are slow to materialize. NASA's limited budget only allows them to follow limited paths, and there isn't sufficient support for space colonization for congress to increase their budget (sigh). Life in a space colony or life on the moon or Mars remains limited to space colonization diagrams and daydreams that provide excellent ideas, but lack the funding to carry them foreward. The theory of space colonization and the why of space colonization lack the money to push these Grand Plans forward. Space settlement designs from Gerald K. O'Neil's huge cylinders designed to house 10,000 people to small research bases all rely on the biosphere for support--be it earth's natural biosphere or a garden in a closed ecosystem. Moving from the natural biosphere to agriculturally closed ecosystems is going to be a challenge.

It is the goal of ISECCo to help all these future space colonies, space settlements and even space habitats by developing a comprehensive science project to develop closed ecological life support system (CELSS) technology. In other words we want to help develop the field of space agriculture, or extra-terrestrial agriculture. Although space exploration is advancing nicely, extended human exploration like Martian exploration or Lunar exploration will need CELSS technology. Especially Martian colonization will be greatly facilitated with advance life support science, and most likely a complete CELSS facility. Science articles are slowly begining to reflect our need to develop these technolgies, but there is a very long way left to go.

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