Realistically, a self-sustaining craft would need to rely on plant life being able to flourish in space, taking in harmful carbon dioxide and converting it into oxygen, providing food and possible fuel. However, experimental contained biodomes on Earth have failed to flourish without external intervention, and we still need to understand more about plant growth in microgravity before we can hope to produce enough food to sustain a crew.
Aspects of sustainability are already being used on the International Space Station (ISS). Around 93 per cent of the water on board is recycled and large solar arrays generate electricity from the Sun’s rays. Recently, the astronauts even ate the first space-grown salad. By using the ISS as a test bed, we can improve our understanding and technology to eventually produce self-sustaining spacecraft.
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