Currently, the field of crewed space exploration is characterised by a small number of nations that have each developed their own spacecraft and related technologies. Their individual solutions are strongly dependent on financial budgets and thus tend to be designed for specific mission profiles and limited mission durations to reduce costs and risks as far as possible. With plans for longer missions for the exploration of Mars, asteroids or other objects, the existing solutions arguably fail to meet the requirements for the wide variety of potential missions. Christian Zschoch believes the answer lies in his universal spaceship design concept.
Research undertaken as part of a conceptual review known as Projekt Spaceship has produced a design for a new generation of manned spacecraft that supports extended long-term missions in terms of durability, variability and life support. Its optimised hull construction, with all of its embedded biological and chemical processes, has the primary aim of enabling long-term stays in space while also being independent of an external mission supply network. The aim of the research was to produce an outline design for a self-sufficient crewed spacecraft with a possible, albeit extreme, lifetime extension of up to 60 years.
In comparison with existing designs for large-scale space stations or spacecraft with minimally sustainable support systems, this spaceship concept offers a low-mass, high-density solution with a variety of integrated life support functions. The properties of this spaceship design mean that it could also be used in situ on the surface of planets, moons or asteroids if the gravitational pull of the body is sufficient.