In outer space, water use aboard the International Space Station is a microcosm of water use here on Earth. The three astronauts on a mission at the space station toasted one another on Wednesday and took their first sip of water purified from their urine, sweat and condensed from exhaled air, the Associated Press reports.
“The taste is great,” U.S. astronaut Michael Barratt said.
This was the first successful test of the Water Recovery System after initial glitches in the fall delayed its installation. As the astronauts celebrated the historic moment in space, NASA workers at mission control in Houston greeted them and drank their own version of similarly recycled water.
Water recycling in the ISS is vital, as the station crew will double next week, when a Soyuz rocket will launch from Kazakhstan and bring three more astronauts to the space station. The system will also cut the heavy costs of transporting water from Earth and could potentially supply future outposts on the Moon, Mars and beyond.
When the station crew expands to six later this month, it will be able recycle about six gallons (about 23 liters) in six hours, said Marybeth Edeen, the space station’s national lab manager in charge of the system.
Watch the crew toasting with recycled water here.
Image courtesy of NASA.
, a Bulgaria native, is a Chicago-based reporter for Circle of Blue. She co-writes The Stream, a daily digest of international water news trends.
Interests: Europe, China, Environmental Policy, International Security.