Forward Osmosis BagThe Atlantis space shuttle launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral on Friday, marking the final flight of NASA's 30-year-old space shuttle program. And one of the many important things people are wondering is what the heck do Astronauts drink in space?
On the first moon walk mission, Buzz Aldren smuggled wine on-board (he wanted to use it to perform the first outer space communion). And of course, all those other astronauts have been drinking Tang for years. Well, I don't really know that for sure, but that's what all the commericals say so it must be true. But on this last mission, one of the Astronauts will be drinking something pretty disgusting.
His own urine.
The astronaut is testing a new "urine recycling system" or "Forward Osmosis Bag" (FOB) that could be used on the International Space Station in the future. The system is a portable drinking pouch that converts pee into drinking water by filtering out toxins, parasites, bacteria and other gross stuff through some kind of sugary solution. NASA scientists say that this could be the first step in recapturing the humidity from our sweat, breath and urine, and recycling it to make it drinkable.
This drinking your own urine thing is new to me, but apparently Astronauts and soldiers have been using this kind of pee-cycling technology for years. The cool new part about the FOB (if anything about drinking your own pee can be called "cool") is that it doesn't need an external power source like the pee-cycling machine the International Space Station already has on-board so pee-drinkers will be able to recycle an unlimited supply of this homemade "sports drink." Oh, yum.
Oh and one more thing. False alarm. The astronaut won't actually be recycling his own pee -- they'll be giving him an "experimental fluid" to drink this time.
At least that's what they're saying.
Would you ever drink your own recycled pee?
Image via NASA