According tomedia CNET, the water is heavy and difficult to get into orbit, which is why the International Space Station is the champion in recycling. Even the astronaut’s urine is captured and processed into drinkable water. The system that does this job is about to receive an important upgrade. The isS water recovery system is tasked with converting wastewater into drinking water. The urine treatment part of the system has been of concern. The astronauts will install a redesigned urine distillation device that will handle boiling urine to initiate the key steps of the purification process.
“One of the most important things we’ve learned over the past 12 years in the orbit of the hardware is that the hardware is vulnerable in its steam environment,” NASA’s Jennifer Pruitt said in a statement Monday. “
NASA said the upgrade sits on internal redesigns “including new toothed belt drive systems, bearing seals, Teflon gaskets and level sensors.” If you want to learn more about the details, including technical failures in your system, check out the NASA White Paper on Upgrades (PDF link). NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center described the redesigned system as a “appreciated upgrade.”
A more reliable system is good news for ISS staff, but it’s also an important step in NASA’s future exploration plans. The space agency is looking at a mission to return to the moon and eventually send humans to Mars. For these long-term missions to keep astronauts away from Earth, water recycling in space will be even more important.