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Deutsch: Zirkulation / Español: Circulación / Português: Circulação / Français: Circulation / Italiano: Circolazione

Circulation in the space industry context can refer to several concepts, depending on the specific area of focus. Generally, it involves the movement or distribution of fluids (which can be liquid or gas) within a spacecraft system or environmental control system to maintain temperature and life support systems. It can also refer to the movement and transfer of objects or information within the space sector.


Circulation within spacecraft is crucial for maintaining an environment that can support human life and sensitive equipment through proper temperature regulation and distribution of vital gases. This includes systems designed to circulate air to prevent CO2 buildup, distribute heat evenly throughout the habitat, and manage any liquid resources such as water or fuel.

Application Areas

Circulation is important in various systems and operations in space exploration:

  • Life Support Systems: Ensuring continuous movement of breathable air within crewed spacecraft habitats to maintain necessary oxygen levels and remove carbon dioxide.
  • Thermal Control Systems: Using fluids to transfer heat around the spacecraft to protect equipment and crew from temperature extremes encountered in space.
  • Fluid Management: Circulation of fuel and water within spacecraft systems for use in propulsion systems and for consumption by astronauts, respectively.
  • Data Circulation: The movement and processing of data within spacecraft systems and between space and ground stations to ensure mission success and safety.

Well-Known Examples

  • International Space Station (ISS): Uses complex air circulation systems to ensure a breathable atmosphere and appropriate cabin pressure for its crew.
  • Satellite Thermal Management: Satellites use circulation of heat transfer fluids to dissipate heat generated by onboard electronics and solar panels.
  • Mars Rover Environmental Controls: Rover missions include systems designed to manage internal temperatures through circulation of heat within the vehicle.

Treatment and Risks

Effective circulation systems in space require careful planning and management:

  • System Redundancy: Critical circulation systems typically have redundant components to ensure functionality in case of failure.
  • Regular Maintenance and Monitoring: Systems must be regularly checked and maintained to prevent failures that could endanger the crew and mission.
  • Engineering Challenges: Designing systems that can function effectively in the microgravity environment of space, where natural convection is not present.
  • Contamination Risks: Circulation systems must be designed to prevent the spread of contaminants that could harm the spacecraft's atmosphere or fluid supplies.

Similar Terms

  • HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning): Refers to similar concepts of air and temperature management in terrestrial environments.
  • Thermal Regulation: Focuses specifically on the management of heat transfer and temperatures in spacecraft systems.



In the space industry, circulation refers to the critical movement of air, fluids, and sometimes data within and between spacecraft systems to support life, manage thermal conditions, and ensure operational integrity. This can include everything from life support systems that maintain a breathable atmosphere to thermal control systems that protect both crew and sensitive equipment from the harsh conditions of space.


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