NASA Uses Recycled Sweat And Urine To Drink

Endeavour launches to ISS
Endeavour launches to ISS

Space shuttle Endeavour blasted off in the night sky Friday evening with its crew of seven headed toward the International Space Station.  This 124th mission, among the last of this fleet, has a specific objective in regards to doubling the size of the space station crew from three members to six.  So along with the seven member crew, the shuttle is also carrying along new sleeping compartments, a refrigerator, exercise equipment, a second toilet, put what could be the most interesting of the cargo is a new technology that would turn urine and sweat into drinking water.

The $250 million wastewater recycling gear will have the ability to take human sweat and urine and purify it to enhance the station’s water-recycling abilities.  The system was tested previously with people who volunteered to work out and perspire in a controlled environment, similar to what astronauts would see in space.  The humidity and some urine samples were collected through condensation.  Hair, skin, and dust were filtered out and the fluids were combined.  Water is boiled off of it and once you add in proper chemicals and disinfectants, you have a clean and safe drinking product.  Or at least that’s what we’re led to believe.

The system’s lead engineer says that its perfectly fine.  so the likelihood of there being anything wrong with the newly purified water is relatively small.  In fact it’s probably close to the likelihood of there being anything wrong with the water we drink here on Earth, as it goes through almost the same process.  The water cycle, what scientist call the hydrologic cycle, is the way we use the water provided here on Earth to turn into drinking water.  From the oceans to the clouds we have water all over the Earth.  The sun evaporates the water and it goes into the air.  The vapors then collect in the clouds that move around the world and eventually it comes back down in precipitation.  It goes in oceans and on land as runoff, which is then purified and made drinkable. 

Not for nothin’, but no matter how clean the water is, its still too close to drinking urine.  But I guess if you got it in you to take off in a shuttle to go outside of Earth, then you probably have it in you to drink urine and sweat.   


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