The China Space Station, with the Shenzhou-15 crew now in orbit, is capable of producing 100 percent of its oxygen supply through its onboard regeneration system, according to an official speaking at a space technology conference held in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, northeast China, on Thursday.

According to Bian Qiang, director of the environmental control and life-support engineering office at the Astronaut Center of China, this represents a fundamental shift in the environmental control and life-support system for China’s manned spacecraft from “replenishment” to “regeneration.”

The Shenzhou-15 crew deploys a two-photon microscope to space, where it undergoes testing.

As a critical technology for China’s manned space missions, the environmental control and life-support system ensures the astronauts’ health and safety by providing fundamental living conditions and a livable working environment.

The system includes six regeneration subsystems for the following processes: oxygen production by water electrolysis, carbon dioxide removal, hazardous gas removal, urine treatment, water treatment, and carbon dioxide and hydrogen-based water production.

“At present, the six systems are operating in a stable manner, with 100 percent of oxygen resources being regenerated and 95 percent of water resources being recycled. Bian, speaking at the third national manned spaceflight environmental control and life-support technology conference, stated that this reduces the quantity of provisions from the ground by six tonnes annually.

According to him, the environmental control and life-support system employs some of the most advanced technology in the world.

According to Bian, experts have developed three generations of environmental control and life-support systems for China’s manned spacecraft over the past 55 years, as well as relevant products for the Shenzhou spacecraft, extravehicular spacesuits, and the three-module space station complex.

The crew of the Shenzhou 15 sent a video to the conference. Commander Fei Junlong felt privileged to witness the evolution of the space station’s environmental control and life-support technology since the Shenzhou-6 mission 17 years ago. He enjoyed working and residing in space for more than 100 days.

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