Broadcast 2639

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • helix-space the space show sponsor

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Dr. Jens Hauslage;  Topics:  The DLR C.R.O.P Project & new approaches to closed loop life support for space missions. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See  For those listening to archives using and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience. 

We welcomed Dr. Jens Hauslage, DLR specialist in bio-regenerative life support systems for space, to discuss the DLR's C.R.O.P Project (Combined Regenerative Organic Food Production).  You can find out more about this project and closed loop life support for space by visiting these DLR websites: which focus on the C.R.O.P. Project in addition to which focuses on the DLR test mission EU CROPIS.  The reviewed and published paper we referenced during our discussion, "Natural microbial populations in a water-based biowaste management system for space life support" can be found at  During our one hour discussion, I first asked Dr. Hauslage how he got his interest in space, in particular in the subject of closed loop life support systems and bio-regenerative life support.  His story is interesting in that the path to becoming a leading scientist in this field was not that different than the paths many of us and many of our younger listeners are following with regards to their space interests.  To me, it confirms the enormous opportunity people have in the space and science fields, opportunities in my mind that should not be overlooked.  He was interested in space at an early age, was inspired by the different space missions and programs, films, also by Biosphere 2 and more.  Don't miss his personal story.

Next, I asked Dr. Hauslage to describe the C.R.O.P. project to us which he did for our one hour discussion.  He went into detail about life support issues, specifically closed loop life support issues, nutrients, fertilizer, recycling of human waste, the biofilters being used including lava rock, nitrification, soil bacteria and how it is impacted by different levels of gravity, say Earth, the Moon, Mars, and microgravity.  He was asked about time lines for advancement to operational systems such as he was developing plus he was asked if more money was the answer.  As you will hear, developing, researching, testing, and demonstrating takes times so while more money would be helpful for financing the projects and research, it would not necessarily speed up the development timeline. 

A few listeners, especially Harriet, emailed in that the entire idea of human waste recycling was disgusting so she asked if astronauts and researchers had to go through any special type of de-sensitizing training to either work in the field or use the products.  Our guest had much to say about this subject for the future of human spaceflight but also for developing countries here on Earth.  This was a very interesting discussion about our future on Earth as well as space so I urge you to listen carefully to how these systems are developing, how they are being used now here on Earth and will be used for our future, and what they mean for human spaceflight including space settlement on Mars and possibly elsewhere.  Dr. Hauslage went into detail during this discussion so at times you might find it a bit technical depending upon your background.

Dr. Hauslage talked about the idea of terraforming Mars, the probable times lines for it, especially to enable humans to walk around on Mars as we do here on Earth.  He said that it has been suggested it would take around 100,000 years of terraforming to accomplish that goal.  He compared that to possibilities for using bio-regenerative life support systems such as C.R.O.P. or even more refined systems that will surely emerge over time with additional R&D behind them. 

Our guest was asked about testing and demonstrating the C.R.O.P. system.  He talked about the DLR sounding rocket project, EU: CROPIS. He also mentioned the use of synthetic Mars and lunar regolith, synthetic urine and waste plus more.  Beverly in Seattle brought up development and deployment timelines again, asking if there was a significant difference in developing survival technology for say Mars as compared to transportation technology.  Our guest said there was lots of survival technology available due to the military, rescue disciplines and other terrestrial needs, but he again said time was needed to test them carefully for the space application.

Jack emailed in a question about the movie and book "The Martian" regarding growing potatoes on Mars.  Dr. Hauslage explained not only what would be needed for growing certain kinds of potatoes on Mars but just how many potatoes would need to be grown and consumed to meet basic human nutritional needs.  He suggested one of the challenges regarding space nutrition was consuming sufficient fats and oils.   It is less challenging to get protein and starch from space developed and grown food sources. 

As the program was coming to a close, I asked our guest about collaboration with other national space agencies on these issues.  He said he had contacts with NASA AMES  and Russia regarding biofiltration development as well as other international actors.

Please post your comments/questions in the comments section of this archived program on The Space Show website.  You can reach our guest through me or through the DLR- The German Aerospace Center (   




The C.R.O.P. ® Project at DLR

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