Drinks in space – It’s Beer O’clock and We’re Drinking Recycled Pee
Astronauts spend a long time away from earth, with their missions lasting as long as one year. If NASA and other space organizations achieve their dream of exploring Mars and other planets, the length of these missions will increase immensely.
This will force the space industry to come up with creative ways of creating food and drinking water for the astronauts in space.
According to a space marketer Martin Wilson, NASA is going to have to up the ante when using cutting-edge water recycling technology that recycles condensate and urine to create drinking water for astronauts in the ISS.
Why recycled urine?
As already mentioned, astronauts who are stationed at the International Space Station are a long way from home, and resupply runs to the ISS cannot always be relied on to deliver food and water. The cost of resupply missions is also quite expensive, meaning that NASA spends thousands of dollars when shipping water to the ISS.
If NASA was to achieve its dream of establishing a base on the moon, as well as the exploration of other planets, the cost of shipping water would increase exponentially.
The logistics of doing so would also be extremely difficult. Therefore, NASA had to come up with an innovative idea to ensure that astronauts can get a reliable supply of drinking water, which turned out to be the recycling of urine.
Astronauts on the International Space Station produce several gallons of urine in a single day, which creates a great source of recycled water. This, combined with urine from animals in space and condensate (breath, sweat, and running shower water), helps NASA produce several thousands of recycled water every year.
In fact, according to one Canadian astronaut on the ISS (Chris Hadfield), over 93% of all the water in the International Space Station is recycled.
The process of recycling urine in the International Space Station is carried out by a Urine Processor Assembly, which can recycle up to 75% of water in the urine. The urine is collected, distilled to separate water from other contaminants, and then the water is treated using iodine to ensure that it is safe for drinking.
Would you drink it?
Despite being practical, the idea of drinking recycled urine can be quite disgusting, considering it is a waste product of the body. A number of people would thus be quite uncomfortable with the idea of drinking it.
However, this is not the case with NASA astronauts, who are a long way from home and recycled urine might be their only choice. In fact, some of the astronauts seem to love the water.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Layne Carter (ISS water subsystem manager) said that the recycled urine water tastes just like bottled water, and the only problem is the psychological impact of knowing you are drinking recycled urine and condensate. Therefore, as long as you can get over this fact, drinking the water would not be a huge problem.
NASA had been spending a lot of money, not to mention the difficult logistics, when sending water for astronauts in the International Space Station. However, with the new technology of recycling urine and condensate into drinking water, this nightmare has finally been put to rest.
Astronauts at the International Space Station now have a reliable supply of drinking water, which can help with long space missions. Those that venture to Mars and beyond, won’t be so lucky.