During stays that last between six months and a year on the International Space Station, we have developed technology to keep astronauts safe and healthy. Future crewed missions will need a new approach to human spaceflight if they are to succeed. A group of researchers propose a new way to make oxygen in space using magnets, which could help astronauts explore further in the future.

Oxygen systems on the space station work through the OGA Taking water from the water recovery system, the OGA splits it into oxygen and hydrogen which is kept. It would need to be more reliable if it were to be used on a long-term mission to Mars because it is heavy.

Magnetic phase separation can be used to make oxygen in space. Oxygen generation can be difficult to separate gases from liquids. In the microgravity space, the gases don't have to be spun out with a heavy machine. The researchers want to use magnets instead of acentrifugation because they attract bubbles to it.

A 146-meter tall structure called a drop tower was used as a testing ground for the team's idea. A capsule is placed inside the tube and dropped from a height of 120 meters into the air, giving a free fall of almost five minutes. A test of over 9 seconds can be done using the tower's "catapult mode," where the capsule starts at the bottom of the tower and is catapulted to the top before falling back down.

The proof that the concept will work in the zero-g space environment came from being able to use the drop tower in Germany.

There is research published in the journal.

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