OSIP Ideation Campaign: Shaping the Future of Space Exploration

ESA campaign for Advancing Circular Life Support Systems is closing soon!
Share your idea for a system study (100k€) or a early technology development project (175k€).

The heart of this campaign is a trio of distinct challenges:
1. Food for Mars
2. Turning Waste into Resources
3. Microscopic Space Risks

Campaign Background

The vast expanse of space presents us with extraordinary opportunities and unprecedented challenges. As we look towards future crewed missions beyond Low Earth Orbit, we are confronted with the stark reality of resource scarcity and the pressing need for sustainability.

In space, resources are not only limited but also incredibly precious. Water, oxygen, and food are vital for human survival, but transporting them from Earth is costly and complex. Future missions beyond Low Earth Orbit demand self-sufficiency and a closed-loop approach. The goal is clear: reduce dependence on resupply missions and embrace sustainable practices.

This campaign draws its inspiration from the MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) project, led by ESA. Over 30 years of research in alternative life support systems, MELiSSA has garnered extensive knowledge and built a global network. Its focus on regenerative systems, producing essential resources like oxygen, water, and food from mission waste, aligns perfectly with the challenges of long-term human presence in space.

What’s noteworthy is that the research and developments done in regenerative life support systems, like MELiSSA, have applications right here on Earth. They’re suitable for terrestrial applications and synergies that can enhance sustainability and resource management on our home planet. Moreover, introducing a commercial element to address space applications fosters the commercial maturation of space exploration technologies. Therefore, we encourage ideas submitted to contain such commercial elements, bridging the gap between space and terrestrial innovation.

The heart of this campaign is a trio of distinct challenges:

Challenge #1: Food for Mars
Imagine the complexity of preparing meals for astronauts embarking on a journey to Mars. This challenge tasks us with identifying the perfect biomass composition to meet the Mars Transit Habitat’s food requirements. Can you craft the ideal menu for Martian explorers?

Challenge #2: Turning Waste into Resources 
In space, waste takes on a whole new significance. Challenge #2 calls for innovative solutions to efficiently process waste within the MELiSSA loop. The benefits would be substantial:

  • Reduced reliance on resupply missions, cutting mission costs.
  • On-demand manufacturing capabilities for long-term missions.
  • A closed-loop system for sustainable space exploration.
  • Pioneering Earth’s circular economy with space technology.

Challenge #3: Microscopic Space Risks 
In the vastness of space, even the smallest threats matter. This challenge focuses on studying virus and phage risks by the crew and regenerative life support processes. Ensuring the well-being of the life-support system is paramount as we venture into the cosmos.

Join the OSIP Campaign: Shape the Future of Space and Sustainability!

ESA invites innovators and entrepreneurs to shape and implement novel ideas that could redefine space exploration and address our planet’s most pressing challenges.

Visit OSIP today, submit your ideas, and be part of the cosmic revolution! Further background on this campaign launch can be found here.