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Microbial Conditions in Spacecraft


Investigation on Means and Methods for Controlling the Microbial Conditions in Manned Modules of Long-Operating Space Vehicle

Tech Area / Field

  • BIO-MIB/Microbiology/Biotechnology
  • SAT-SAF/Space Safety/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation
  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Evstyukhin K N

Leading Institute
Russian Academy of Sciences / Institute of Biomedical Problems, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • FEI (IPPE), Russia, Kaluga reg., Obninsk


  • Astrium GmbH / DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, Germany, Königsbrunn\nDaimlerChrysler Aerospace, Germany, Bremen\nEuropean Space Agency / CNES MSTP/Centre Spatial de Toulouse, France, Toulouse\nDaimlerChrysler Aerospace Airbus, Germany, Hamburg

Project summary

Purpose of the project is the development of scientific basis, methodical and technological approaches to design and certification of biologically resistant materials for space application, and methods, means and guidelines for prophylaxis and arresting uncontrolled growth of microbial cenosis in order to provide environmental and engineering safety of operating manned space vehicles.

Novelty of the environmental/engineering concept of biodegradation relative to space technologies resides in the idea to look upon the inhabited pressurized modules of space vehicles as specialized niches where the closed ecological system "human-microbial cenosis-environment" develops. In this system, human is the main source of microorganisms that cause initial contamination of lining material and equipment.

Expansion of the microbial cenosis begins with residential invasion of surfaces within the reach by both biophilic microorganisms and opportunistic pathogens; resulted microbial colonies and biofilms serve as pools for secondary microflora contamination and degradation of materials, and source of infection and toxic/allergic hazard to space crew.

To minimize medical and technological risks consequent to biodegradation of materials and equipment, proposed is the following:

1. Development of a model for certification of materials for bioresistance that will maximally mimic the conditions and environment within space vehicle modules as sites of "microorganism-material" interaction.

2. Review test objects to be certified in terms of their antimicrobial properties and complement their list by representatives and associations of microflora typically isolated from degraded materials of the MIR interior and equipment.

3. Supplementing the requirements to bioresistance of materials and sterilizing and disinfecting means by a standard for inhibition of germination of dormant which are the main contaminating and allergy inducing agents, and development of respective tests.

4. Devising technologies for production of new bioresistant materials and paint coats, and formulation of antimicrobial (prophylactic) wipes containing original ecology-biocides inducing anabiosis of microorgaaisms with a broad antimicrobial spectrum, antioxidative activity, and the ability to inhibit spore germination.

5. Development of provisional recommendations of how to use and apply bioresistant materials, paint coats and antimicrobial agents to space equipment.

The participants of the Project invite scientific and commercial institutions from USA, European Community, Japan, Norway and South Korea to cooperate in seminars, discussions and problem information exchange.


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