May
21
2009

The same story twice in a row? Time must have looped!

Pure, delicious water: Drink up!
Pure, delicious water: Drink up!Courtesy viking_79
Raise a glass of cool, clear water for our girls and boys in space.

After the removal of a “sticky check valve” in the Urine Processing Assembly on Monday, astronauts on the International Space Station have finally been given a “go” to drink “recycled” water. Wondering, no doubt, what exactly made that valve so sticky, our brave orbiting scientists can now sit back and hesitantly sip tepid, musty water from pouches not entirely unlike catheter bags.

That’s how I like to imagine it, anyway. I suspect, however, that most things on the space station are pretty fancy, and that any water recycling system they’d have up there would do a pretty good job of removing the subtle flavors of urine, sweat, and exhaled moisture (all of which are processed by the system). Hopefully it chills the end product a little bit too. There’s nothing like drinking something the temperature of spit for making you feel like you’re drinking spit.

The technology has been a long time coming. The system was only installed late last year, but it has been the dream of mankind for generations that we might somehow find a way to reuse what we so wastefully flush away (“yellow gold,” we call it). Especially in space. If we ever want to take extended trips in space (and we do—even going to Mars would take months and months), water and waste recycling systems are going to be essential. These brave, thirsty astronauts are finally taking a bold step toward that wonderful future.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Er... Thor and I often think on the same track. Some days I'll be singing a little song in my cubicle, and I'll suddenly realized that Thor is singing a different song on the other side of the office, and yet we're somehow harmonizing. Go figure.

posted on Thu, 05/21/2009 - 11:05am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

This is just one of those stories that you can't get enough of. I'll go on record to say it's the front-runner at the one-third pole for being the top science story of 2009, don't you think?

posted on Thu, 05/21/2009 - 1:04pm

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