Pumps for the ISS

Liquid pumps made by KNF were on board an HTV-7 unmanned cargo spacecraft launched from Japan on September 23, 2018, destined for the International Space Station (ISS). These space-worthy liquid pumps are part of a new Life Support Rack for the ISS. Also known as an Advanced Closed Loop System (ACLS), the rack purifies air and produces oxygen for the ISS. It was developed by Airbus Defence and Space for the European Space Agency (ESA). The new ACLS rack will be installed in the ISS’s Destiny module (also known as the US Lab) by ESA astronaut and ISS commander Alexander Gerst on November 2, 2018.

KNF-Engineers worked with Airbus for four years to specify and design the pump, which is based on the proven FEM 1.09 dosing pump. The project was part of Airbus’s COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) program, which uses well-established components to reduce the price tag for space flight.

The two KNF pumps form part of an electrolyser that produces oxygen and hydrogen from water. The pumps transfer supply water from a plastic bag into the ACLS.

Technical realization and production has been made by KNF product center for liquid membrane pumps in the Swiss town of Sursee. Key components are similar to the standard FEM 1.09 pump to ensure it maintained its reliability and specifications, but make significant design modifications such as:

  • stainless steel housing
  • vacuum-rated ball bearings
  • stainless steel fittings for the fluid connections
  • integration of a space-rated drive motor.

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