Much of the attention during the current space shuttle mission has focused on making long-awaited repairs to the aging Hubble Space Telescope. But there are other matters to attend to as well. Such as tasting water recycled from urine.
On Wednesday, astronauts aboard the International Space Station conducted the first taste test of an onboard recycling system that turns urine, sweat, and moisture from the air into drinking water. The system pumps the urine from the toilet to a large tank, where the water is boiled off and the vapor collected. Urine brine is thrown away. This vapor is then mixed with water from air condensation and filtered for purification into clean drinking water.
The $154 million water recycling system is part of a $250 million regenerative life support system intended to sustain larger space station crews, with fewer supply drop-offs from visiting spacecraft. The recycling system would recoup its cost by reducing the amount of water that would have to be shipped up.
American astronaut Michael Barratt gave the water a thumbs-up after tasting it. Given the glitches the recycling system experienced during several tests on earth, NASA considered the successful test of the recycling system aboard the space station a milestone.
I’ll drink to that – with Poland Spring water.