Intelligent Control of Life Support Systems for Space Habitats

Debra Schreckenghost, Daniel Ryan, Carroll Thronesbery, Peter Bonasso, and Daniel Poirot

The Interchamber Monitoring and Control (IMC) system is semi-autonomous, intelligent software that controls life support systems designed for recycling air in remote space habitats. The IMC system was developed using the 3T autonomous control architecture. This architecture integrates traditional control with reactive task sequencing and deliberative planning technology. The IMC system was used during the Phase III test of NASA’s Lunar/Mars Life Support Test Program (LMLSTP). For this test, four crew members lived in a closed habitat for 91 days. The objective of using an intelligent control system was to reduce the need for crew involvement in nominal control of life support by automating control operations. Prior to this test, manually intensive traditional process control software had been used to control LMLSTP life support systems. It is impractical and inefficient for crew at a remote site to continuously monitor day-to-day operation of life support systems. Our intelligent control software autonomously handles nominal and expected anomalous situations. The crew only intervenes in exceptional or novel situations. During the Phase III test we demonstrated the viability of using intelligent control for such automation.

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