Academic journal article Science Scope

Tang's Not the Only Option

Academic journal article Science Scope

Tang's Not the Only Option

Article excerpt

Two hundred and fifty miles above the Earth puts you a long way from the nearest kitchen tap. And at $10,000 a pint, the cost of shipping fresh water aboard the space shuttle is, well, astronomical. So astronauts on the International Space Station have to recapture every possible drop. That includes water evaporated from showers, shaving, tooth brushing, and hand washing, plus perspiration and water vapor that collects within the astronauts' space suits. They even transfer water from the fuel cells that provide electric power to the space shuttle.

Until now, however, NASA has not attempted to tap one major potential source of water: urine. That will soon change with the deployment of the new Water Recovery System, which departed in November from the Kennedy Space Center on the space shuttle Endeavor. The Water Recovery System, made possible in part by researchers at Michigan Technological University, can transform ordinary pee into water so pure it rivals the cleanest on Earth.

David Hand was the lead researcher on the project, which ran from 1993 to 1997 at Tech. …

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