Drinking urine: It’s the dirty little secret of longterm space travel.
The costs of transporting water to the International Space Station and beyond are so cost-prohibitive ― $48,000 per liter ― that NASA engineers had to find cheaper ways of taking H20 into space.
Luckily for science, someone figured out a method. Unluckily for the astronauts, it’s turning their own pee into potable drinking water.
According to “America’s Secret Space Heroes,” a documentary series airing Sundays on the Smithsonian Channel, NASA scientists distilled all the information about urine and created a distillery that turns an astronaut’s whiz into drinking water.
In the clip above, NASA engineer Jennifer Pruett explains how artificial gravity helps the device work its magic.
“This whole part is the centrifuge that’ll spin. So the urine will be sprayed out along the back wall as it spins,” she said. “The heavy dense fluid will stick to the wall and the lighter steam as it evaporates out will be sucked through the centre through that mesh onto the next part of the system.”
The end result is what she calls “good clean urine distillate” that gets put into a water processor for further filtration before the astronauts actually consume it.
To paraphrase Neil Armstrong: It’s one small drip for man. One giant leak for mankind.