May
21
2009

Um, that's not Tang that you're drinking

Drinking our waste to our health: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station toasted their first sips of water converted from urine they've expelled during their time in the station.
Drinking our waste to our health: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station toasted their first sips of water converted from urine they've expelled during their time in the station.Courtesy NASA
As we approach the start of the summer cool beverage season, here's an exotic drink you might want to try. Yesterday astronauts on the International Space Station raised their glasses in a special toast to the newest accessory on board their space craft. This device converts their urine, sweat and spit into drinkable water.

And you thought the hardest part of being an astronaut was going to be feeling the G-forces for blast-off and re-entry.

Converting body fluid wastes into water is an essential efficiency for long distance space missions to locations like Mars and beyond. And even with at the space station, the device reduces the amount of water that needs to be transported from Earth by 65 percent.

Six seems to be the operative number with this new contraption. A crew of six on the space station creates enough urine to convert into six gallons of water in six hours. Currently, ISS crews are limited to three people because of limited water supply. Now the station will be able to handle up to six crew members at a time.

The new device directs water from the station's toilet to a special tank where the fluid is boiled, separating the water contents from the urine brine.

Want to learn more? Here are some links about this new space travel technology:

NASA coverage of the new water system
USA Today
Past Buzz coverage on space urine-to-water conversion

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