• About IPStar

    IPStar develops and commercializes a space technology portfolio in collaboration with an exclusive range of industrial customers in the area of biobased economy, circular technology, sustainability, cleantech and life sciences. We offer the opportunity to tap into cutting edge space technology in the area such as life sciences, grey | yellow | black water recycling, nutrient recovery, food production, toxin/pathogens and micro-pollutant removal. 


    IPStar focuses on business development and spin outs for terrestrial exploitation of sustainable technologies emanating from the MELiSSA space program and from its international research partners.


    IPStar BV was established in May 2005 and finds its origins in the ESA space incubator initiative in Noordwijk in The Netherlands.



  • MELiSSA logo

    About the MELiSSA Space consortium

    The acronym MELiSSA means 'Micro Ecological Life Support System Alternative'. It refers to a space research program aiming to develop an artificial ecosystem for bio-regenerative life support systems for long-term space missions to lunar bases or flights to Mars. The MELiSSA Project is managed by the ESA ESTEC Thermal and Environmental Control Section (TEC-MCT). The project started 1989 and is based on a collaborative development program between 14 partners and a number of supporting sub-contractors. 

  • Melissa Technology

    The MELiSSA consortium has been established by the European Space Agency to carry out a development program of artificial ecosystem designed for regenerative life support systems for terrestrial applications and long-term space missions to lunar bases or flights to Mars featuring technologies that can be broadly classified into:

    - Water Treatment and Recycling Technology
    - Waste Management and Recyling Technology
    - Air Quality and Regeneration Technology
    - Food production and Preparation
    - Analyzers and Sensory Technology
    - Biosafety and Acceptance
    - System Analysis and Design
    - Life Sciences

    Many of these solutions directly impact and present solutions to environmental issues on earth. Think biobased economy and circular models. A few concrete examples of MELiSSA technology spin-offs are listed below:


    Resulting from the MELiSSA nitrifying compartment, a new bacterial support has been identified (e.g. BIOSTYR®) in collaboration with the company Veolia (F). More than a billion m3 of wastewater are treated per day, in over 100 towns.


    Biomass sensor

    In order to quantify immobilised biomass (i.e. biotechnologies) and/or biomass within sludges, a new biomass sensor has been developed with the company NTE. The world leader of sparkling wine (Frexeinet) is using 20 of these sensors on line. The market has been estimated to 1000 units/year.


    The grey water treatment units that have been successfully implemented in the Concordia polar research station, in Antarctica, are another example of a technology transfer success story.


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    IPStar has been a member of the MELiSSA consortium since 2008. The consortium consists of 14 partners including ESA, several universities and CRO's and for profit companies and is internationally recognized as probably the most advanced effort to develop artificial eco-systems. We have partners from Belgium, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy and Canada.





Technology Consulting

  • Technology consulting

    IPStar works together with the MELiSSA consortium and leverages the unique knowhow and technology to assist clients resolving (technical) issues related to a wide arrange of technological obstacles. We can offer a wide variety of consulting services among other to clients who are active in the following areas:

    • Water Treatment and Recycling Technology
    • Waste Management and Recycling Technology
    • Air Quality and Regeneration Technology
    • Food production and Preparation
    • Analyzers and Sensory Technology
    • Biosafety and Acceptance
    • System Analysis and Design
    • process monitoring, simulation and modeling software tools.

    If you are interested to tap into the advanced and in depth knowhow of the MELiSSA consortium partners please contact us. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.



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Advanced Water Treatment

First some facts:

- 85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet.

- 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.


Water scarcity arising from increased demands or depletion of fresh water resources and pollution is a critical problem. The increase in population, consumption and desire for better living has placed an enormous pressure to provide a continual supply of fresh water. It is estimated that global water consumption will double every 20 years.

There is a critical urgency to use the available water resources in an efficient way. To ensure sufficient quantity of water to satisfy and meet global requirements, the use of membrane filtration technologies offer a sustainable solution to offset freshwater usage.  Membrane filtration can treat wastewater to high quality standards that make it practical and safe for several applications. The systems under development by MELiSSA come with certain advantages:

- low overall production costs
low energy costs
limited processing steps
high yield
a high degree of selectivity
great flexibility in handling liquids with different compositions and viscosity

IPStar is working with its partners to launch several initiatives to capitalize on the existing MELiSSA technology to treat grey, yellow and black water for several applications including sanitation systems, industrial processes and water treatment systems in general.

image by WebDog
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What started as a food that astronauts could grow themselves is showing potential for lowering cholesterol levels around the world: space research has found a bacterium that can reduce cholesterol levels by half. The origin of this discovery is ESA’s research into self-contained eco systems recycling mission waste into oxygen, food and water. Why take bulky supplies into space when you can engineer your own using the right mix of plants and microorganisms?


While they might not sound appetising, bacteria are promising ingredients for space food. They grow exponentially and can provide many nutrients in an astronaut’s diet on a long mission to the Moon or Mars. As part of its search for the perfect mix of ingredients, the MELiSSA project tested a bacterium, codenamed Red, for safety at the Dutch TNO research institute. The bacterium was shown to be safe and nutritious but also, remarkably, to cut levels of LDL cholesterol – the ‘bad’ cholesterol.


High levels of cholesterol in the blood increase the risk of heart disease and stroke and 39% of the world’s population have raised levels according to the World Health Organisation. Finding more ways to keep cholesterol in check has obvious benefits. With ESA’s support, spin-off company EzCOL BV was set up by IPStar BV, MELiSSA’s technology transfer partner, to continue research and market the cholesterol-diminishing bacterium. Based in the Netherlands, ezCOL has taken over the development under ESA’s Business Incubation Centre in Noordwijk, where they were supported to start their business.


The technology could be marketed as a medicine or potentially as a food supplement to existing products. A recent research program was completed in Q4 2015 and talks are initiated with major food producers and pharmaceutical companies.

image by WebDog
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What is ballast water

Ballast water provides stability and manoeuvrability to a ship. Usually ballast water is pumped into tanks when a ship has delivered cargo to a port and is departing with less or no cargo. Large ships can carry millions of liters of ballast water.


Annually an estimated 12 billion tons of ballast water is transported around the world by sea-going vessels. This ballast water is loaded in ports, rivers and seas and discharged elsewhere in the world. With the ballast water sediment and a large variety of organisms are taken in and discharged in places where they may not have natural enemies. This includes flora, fauna, bacteria and infectious organisms. These organisms can cause great damage to the environment, health and economy which is seen as one of the greatest environmental challenges of maritime shipping. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has developed regulation in 2004 to address this issue and requires all ships to purify ballast water before discharging it.


IPStar is carrying out a feasibility study looking into the technical and economical parameters to apply advanced grey water treatment technology developed by MELiSSA for the treatment of ballast water on board ships. The objective is to develop a prototype and license the technology to an industrial partner.


Partners: ESA, Witteveen + Bos BV, Lampe Technical Textiles BV, SCK*CEN NV, Agentschapnl.

image by WebDog
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The high biodiversity of microalgae opens numerous applications, such as in food, feed, cosmetics, health, green chemistry or for biofuel purpose. Microalgae can produce energy rich substances such as lipids for biodiesel or biokerosene production, hydrogen by water photolysis, high valuable products and sugars for biomass fermentation (methane) or gasification. Production processes imply major constraints, the most relevant being certainly the need to obtain a sustainable production involving low energy consumption and environmental impact.

Production technologies of photosynthetic microorganisms are characterized by a wide diversity, from open systems to closed technologies, each having specific advantages and disadvantages. Closed photobioreactor technologies are found to offer many advantages: better control of growth conditions, culture confinement enlarging the choice of strains and allowing a high control of process input / output (CO2 fixation, recovery of O2, low water evaporation). 

In this context, it appears that the use of photosynthetic microorganisms for ECLSS and the development of large-scale microalgae production processes (for biofuels and fine chemicals productions) share common objectives: intensified production, high productivity, stability, optimization of culture conditions, high level of understanding…etc. The cultivation system plays here a key-role, as confirmed in several studies. It directly influences critical factors, like the need of resources, the productivities, the controllability, the global robustness of the process and the species to be cultivated.

IPStar was engaged to carry out the commercial evaluation within the context of the above project.

Partners: University Blaise Pascal, Sherpa Engineering, RUAG Schweiz AG, BioFilm Control, GEPEA,

image by WebDog
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What is MELiSSA 2.0

- a circular hotspot place where new initiatives in urban planning, space technology and design come together
- a living lab for energy, water and food management of the future in a circular economy
- a place where entrepreneurs, education and science, governments and society undertake new sustainable initiatives, and put circular developments into practice.

The food, water and energy cycle constitutes the unifying factor. Continuous innovation leads to viable business opportunities that will be embraced by entrepreneurs. The term sustainability has a dual meaning here: economic and environmental sustainability in the context of a transition to a circular economy.

Interested? Contact us or call +31(0)735236800

MELiSSA diagram
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The MELiSSA Foundation

The MELiSSA  project has been initiated with the objective to gain knowledge for the future development of regenerative life support systems for long term space missions. To simplify the final objectives of the project is to re-create an artificial environment allowing 100% of recycling of waste to produce oxygen, water and food. It is clear that such an objective induces a lot of challenges among them, the high multidisciplinary approach and long term research.

Considering the need for academic manpower stability and high level of exchanges over the MELiSSA network we have created a Pool Of MELiSSA PhDs ('POMP'). The main objective is the creation of a European competition for MELiSSA PhDs candidates, over five countries (Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Ireland and Romania). Other objectives include fund raising for humanitarian projects such as the development and deployment of advanced water treatment and sanitation systems and optimized food growth.

The MELiSSA foundation is  a non-profit organisation created specifically for these purpose. The Foundation is managed by Prof. Max Mergeay adn Rob Suters LLM. The selection of the PhD proposals is done by ESA and a committe of independent scientific representatives.

A first selection of PhDs candidates has been performed and the program is expected to start in February 2016 at the hosting universities.

More information can be found at: http://www.melissafoundation.org

MELiSSA Foundation


  • Are you interested to join the space business?

    Are you interested to join the space business?

    We are looking for project managers to work with us on exciting initiatives in the field of biobased economy and circular models based upon the MELiSSA closed life support system.

    We are also looking for interns with a keen understanding of both advanced clean technology and business sense. IPStar was engaged to perform commercial feasibility studies for several projects in the field of ballast water treatment, photo bioreactors and life sciences. If you are a student with a background in one of these subjects we welcome your inquiry.

    Besides a compensation package we offer a great opportunity to get into the exciting field of space exploration. All of our projects benefit mankind and give you a chance to develop your technological savviness and combine this with a practical business oriented perspective for - often - humanitarian spinoffs.

    Interested? Contact us at info@ipstar.nl


  • Business / Finance

    Developing space technology always comes with significant resources. We can can not send a mechanic to fix things to a space mission on its way. This means that every technology the MELiSSA team designs must be robust and require low or preferably no maintenance. IPStar carries out its technology transfer work financed from private sources and (governmental) grants but we always welcome new partnerships financial or from industry. If you are interested to review investment opportunities or if you wish to submit a business proposal we always welcome your inquiry.


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The Netherlands

+31(0) 73 523 6800