Science and Technology for Bioregenerative Life Support

MELiSSA Mini-symposium & Masterclass

On Thursday 30th of March 2017, dr. Christophe Lasseur will receive an honorary degree from the University of Antwerp, Faculty of Science. Dr. Lasseur is the Head and Coordinator of ‘MELiSSA’ (Micro-ecological life support system alternative), a unique R&D-program for bioregenerative life  systems, by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Summary of the event

This event, in the honour of dr. Lasseur and MELiSSA, will host a range of international speakers who will present the state-of-the-art of life support systems and living in space. Speakers are selected from a diversity of disciplines and expertise including microbiology, chemical engineering, astronauts, food sciences and artists. With this diversity, the programme reflects the integrated and interdisciplinary character of MELiSSA. The event also features a poster contest, with four poster awards of €175, two for applications in Space, and two for applications on Earth. Posters are invited for the topic outlined below.


Registration is free yet compulsory. Places are limited, so early registration is highly recommended.

Registrations are closed.


University of Antwerp Stadscampus, Room C103, Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp

Poster contest

Topic I. Space applications of Bioregenerative Life Support Systems

Designing and operating Life Support Systems in space brings its very own challenges. Under this topic we invite posters that outline these challenges and offer approaches and solutions that tackle the challenges at the interface between any aspect related to space and any aspect related to biology and bio-engineering.

Topic II. Earth applications of Bioregenerative Life Support Systems

The transition to a circular and bio-based economy are key policy objectives of the EU. They aim to ensure future resource efficiency, environmental protection and food security. Under this topic we invite posters that show how Life Support System or other technologies and ideas can help to progress towards these ambitious aims. The focus must be on closing resource loops through recovery and reuse.

Posters can be hung on the designated panels between 9h30 and 9h45. Posters should be in A1 format. An expert jury will judge the winners of the poster award.

Honorary degree Dr. Christophe Lasseur

The degree of honorary doctorate is referred upon Christophe Lasseur for his essential and influential contribution to the development of MELiSSA. He created great a dynamic and a strong momentum by coordinating and inspiring the MELiSSA R&D-program of the European Space Agency (ESA). With never-ending energy, he has step by step been accomplishing his life’s work; a concept that is unique at a global scale. MELiSSA is a circular system for space missions where water, oxygen and food is produced from metabolic products. A system and concept that is not only important for space exploration, but has high relevance for the urgent transition to a more circular and bio-based economy to sustain our global society.

The programme

9h15-9h45: arrival and hanging of posters

9h45-10h: welcome – Prof. Nick Schryvers (dean). Prof. Siegfried Vlaeminck and Dr. Marc Spiller (event chairs)

10h-12h: mini-symposium, part 1

  • 30’ – Keynote Prof. Floris Wuyts (Head of Research Centre for Equilibrium and Aerospace; Universiteit Antwerpen)
    The effect of spaceflight on the human body – It’s not a joy ride
  • 15’ – Ir. Dries Demey (Senior Systems Engineer; Qinetiq Space)
    Enhancing life support technology
  • 15’ – Prof. Francesc Godia (Head of the MELiSSA pilot plant; Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
    The MELISSA Pilot Plant: an international collaboration to develop technology for life support in Space
  • 15’ – Dr. Baptiste Leroy (MELiSSA PI on phototrophic bacteria; Université  de Mons)
    The role of photosynthetic micro-organisms in MELiSSA
  • 15’ – Prof. Benedikt Sas (MELiSSA PI on food crops, C and N conversions; Universiteit Gent)
    MELiSSA and terrestrial applications in a circular economy
  • 30’ – Keynote Dr. Didier Schmitt (Expert Space Policy, Security and Diplomacy; European External Action Service – Space Task Force)
    Space exploration: from science to politics and societal choices

12h-13h: networking break with lunch and poster contest

Three categories:

  1. Space applications of Bioregenerative Life Support Systems
  2. Earth applications of Bioregenerative Life Support Systems
  3. MELiSSA inspired concepts by BSc students bioscience engineering UAntwerpen

13h-14h: mini-symposium, part 2

  • 15’ – Video contribution: Ir. Frank De Winne (Astronaut and Head of the European Astronaut Centre; ESA)
    Biological Life Support Systems for sustained exploration – the astronaut’s expectations
  • 15’ – Dr. Natalie Leys (MELiSSA PI on microbiology and Space flights; Belgian Nuclear Research centre - SCK-CEN)
    Packing for Space: Microbes in our suitcase to produce oxygen and food
  • 30’ – Keynote Dr. Angelo Vermeulen (Artist, scientist and TED Senior Fellow)
    Biology as guiding paradigm for interstellar travel

14h-15h: master class - Dr. Christophe Lasseur (Head and Coordinator of ‘MELiSSA’, European Space Agency - ESA)
ESA's perspective on scientific life support development

15h-15h10: poster award ceremony - Prof. Lenaerts (vice-rector innovation and valorization)

15h10-16h: networking break with drinks and snacks (UAntwerp, Stadscampus, Aula Rector Dhanis - Kleine Kauwenberg 14 Antwerp, building K)

16-17h30: honorary doctorate award ceremony (UAntwerp, Stadscampus, Aula Rector Dhanis - Kleine Kauwenberg 14 Antwerp, building K)

17h30-19h30: reception

Event organizers

Dr. Marc Spiller and Prof. Siegfried Vlaeminck

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