Compressors in the Cosmos!


As we already know, compressed air is involved in many different aspects of life, but they aren’t just limited to Earth. Air compressors are a vital piece of equipment for successful space travel – from shuttle lift-off to re-entry to Earth. And, in space, air compressors need to be extremely efficient, reliable and low power so they can function with a range of systems on space stations and in shuttles.

Heating the Space Station

The International Space Station currently has a heat pump system that uses oil-free air compressors. Because they are gravity insensitive, they can compensate for issues that would normally result in cooling materials flowing in the wrong direction or pooling.

The rapid movement from one part of space to another has an effect on the temperature in the spaceship. To avoid these inconveniences, the heat exchangers ensure that the air it absorbs from the air is recirculated. Such heat exchange ensures that the temperature in the spacecraft remains favourable for both the crew and equipment in it.


Compressed air plays a vital role in a space shuttle exiting from the Earths atmosphere. Turbine engines are required to power the aircraft and each turbine relies on an air compressor to increase the pressure of the air before it can enter the combustor.

When the shuttle is taking off, it accelerates by burning liquid hydrogen, which is stored at -252.8 degrees Celsius, as well as liquid oxygen. Air compressors are required to make this operation run smoothly. The shuttle will burn through enough liquid fuel to fill a swimming pool every 25 seconds. During this acceleration, turbines are spinning about 13 times faster than those in your car when you’re cruising down the highway. That means the centrifugal compressors need to be working overtime to keep everything working properly.

Sustaining human life

Astronauts need adequate and clean air in order to reach and return from their destination alive and healthy. The filter and charcoal canister in the air compressors helps to manage the air needs of the crew.

Space shuttles are designed to carry liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen in tanks that are pressurised and regulated by air compressors – these maintain gas flow from the tank, and without them, astronauts would not be able to breathe. Thanks to the help of air compressors, a space shuttle can hold up to 6,000 pounds of compressed gasses, decompressed and remixed as needed, to allow for suitable conditions for both the astronauts and the space shuttle.

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have coordinated to open Phase 2 of the Deep Space Food Challenge, targeted at developing novel food production system technologies for long-duration deep space missions.


NPS is focused on providing the highest-quality compressors for all types of industrial operations. With efficient operation to save you in energy costs over the service life of the compressor, we are prepared to help you make the right compressor choice for your operation. Browse our product line for more information.

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