In 1987 the 480 cubic meter Test Module was built as a prototype to the Biosphere 2. This hermetically sealed greenhouse and living space proved the functions of atmospheric recycling and potable water generation, food production and waste management, and mitigation of thermal expansion and contraction – total environmental control and life support for a single human sealed within. The longest closure lasted for three weeks. SAM integrates the fully refurbished Test Module as a research greenhouse and integral component of a bioregenerative life support system.
There is no single-run experiment that can result in an ideal solution for providing breathable air, potable water, food production and waste reprocessing for long-duration human space exploration. Rather, SAM will see unfolding experiments, findings, and prototypes for years in the making. Much as farming evolved from the art of crop rotation to the science of GPS driven cultivation and genetically modified organisms, living on the Moon, Mars, and in free space will demand constant improvements in our systems as humans move to new homes among the stars.