Sunset over Biosphere 2, by Kai Staats Six weeks have come and gone as though they were just a few days and at the same time a full year in the renovation of the Test Module at Biosphere 2 (B2). The first days were completely overwhelming, Trent and I covered cap to boot in dust, rust, and thirty years of grime. With the steadfast help of B2’s Tim and Terry, and three weeks effort by Cameron too, we moved beyond grinding, sanding, and cleaning to the tipping point of starting to put the Test Module back together again.

All twenty one of the ports are once again sealed, save a single, large hole in the plate steel foundation wall. The stainless steel floor is scraped and scrubbed and the overhead spaceframe dust-free, awaiting a final power wash and cleaning. The outer perimeter is primed, and the top of the lung sealed with an advanced silicon sealant called “795”, the same that has kept the windows sealed at Biosphere 2 for thirty-plus years. Next we paint the outside of the lung cover, seal the vertical plates, apply an elastomeric to the roof and then dive back inside to repair the lung, more than 200 bolts to replace.

The mechanical engineer is completing a final assessment for the potential thermal load in the dead of summer, and then we purchase and install the mini-split coolers. With a reflective coating applied to the upper glass panels to reduce the thermal load and more closely approximate the 50% solar radiation on Mars, we hope to come in with a significantly reduced power consumption over the original Test Module, our goal to go grid-tied or fully off-grid in the coming year or two.

On Monday, March 15 we take possession of a CO2 scrubber designed and built by Paragon Space Development Corporation for a NASA funded research project, and then dive into the modifications and upgrades to suit the demands of a rotational, four-person crew.

Day by day, we check boxes and add more to the long list of TODOs. Day by day we make progress and come closer to our goal, construction of a hi-fidelity Mars analog at Biosphere 2.