We did it! We completed the first seal of the fully refurbished Test Module at Biosphere 2! The experience was extraordinary, a true celebration of the effort to bring this iconic prototype pressure vessel back to life!
The day started with long-time B2 electrician Kevin installing a new 100A, 3-phase disconnect in our primary panel at SAM. Then Chris Kaufmann, Brian Scott, Neal Barto, Emma Menden, and Michael Mason from University of Arizona CEAC delivered, assembled, and transplanted a full suite of food cultivars (some 180 in all), the first to arrive to SAM. Trent moved the CO2 scrubber into place while John and Kai established a base-line for the sensor array, both internal to and external to the sealed Test Module. Leonardo Buono, a veteran filmmaker was on-site for the entire day to both film and manage the lung inflation fan and valve.
With a few words spoken prior to entry, the crew walked inside and sealed the door.
Kai Staats, Trent Tresch, John Adams, Katie Morgan, and a writer were sealed inside for four and a quarter hours. While monitoring the CO2, O2, temperature, relative humidity, and barometric pressure, they played Xtranaut, a board game developed by Dr. Dante Lauretta at the University of Arizona, Principal Investigator for OSIRIS-REx, the spacecraft that is returning a sample from the carbonaceous asteroid Bennu. Finally, this first team to enter the fully refurbished Test Module assembled a FarmBot, an open source precision agriculture CNC farming tool. Our unit was donated to SAM by founder Rory Aronson. It is beautifully constructed, an elegant machine we are eager to employ later this year.
This marks the first time in 30 years that humans have been sealed inside the Test Module and the completion of Phase I construction of SAM, a Space Analog for the Moon and Mars at Biosphere 2.
We were honored to have colleagues and family waiting outside SAM for the duration of the test run, greeting us as we exited at 8:30 pm with a bottle of bubbly and lemonade. Thank you for your support, and for keeping Leo company!
Now, we have data to analyze, photos and video to process, and six months of work to bring to a close.