• About IPStar

    IPStar develops and commercializes a sizeable space technology portfolio in collaboration with an exclusive range of industrial customers in the area of sustainability, cleantech and health. We offer our customers the opportunity to tap into cutting edge space technology in the area such as life sciences, water recycling, efficient food production, toxin/pathogens removal. Specialist contract research work defined by you will be executed to the highest standards and in full confidentiality.


    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.


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    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 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) headed by Dr. Christophe Lasseur. The project is based on a collaborative development program with nine 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. 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.



    IPStar has been accepted as a member of the MELiSSA consortium in 2008. The consortium consists of 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 and Canada. IPStar is based in The Netherlands.




IPStar and MELiSSA are involved in several projects..


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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 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 bacteria are grown in Belgium at MELiSSA’s partner SCK·CEN research centre in vats that need to be kept at ideal temperatures and under the right amount of light. In parallel ezCOL is researching production technology with AF&F BV and Algenkwekerij AW van Bennekom. The technology could be marketed as a medicine or potentially as a food supplement to existing products. The research is scheduled to be completed by Q1 2015 and talks are initiated with major food producers and pharmaceutical companies.

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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 a board of MELiSSA parties, ESA and independent scientific representatives.

Selection of the PhDs candidates will be performed by competition, and geographical return, respected via the hosting universities.

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

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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.

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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.

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  • Are you interested to join the space business?

    We are looking for several 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 for expenses 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 savvyness and combine this with a practical business oriented perspective for - often - humanitarian spinoffs.


    Interested? Contact us at info@ipstar.nl


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The Netherlands

+31(0) 73 523 6800