Our ISS Astronauts Drink Recycled Russian Pee

US astronauts happy to take it off their hands
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2015 1:08 AM CDT
Russian ISS Astronauts Shun Recycled Pee
Astronauts celebrate with a toast to the space station's new water recycling system in this 2009 photo.   (AP Photo/NASA)

Every drop of water counts aboard the International Space Station, and drinking recycled urine is a fact of life—if you're an American astronaut. The Russian astronauts don't recycle their pee for their own consumption, though like other astronauts, they recycle condensate from all the breath and sweat that ends up in the station's air, the Guardian reports. Layne Carter, NASA's water subsystem manager for the ISS, tells Bloomberg that once you get over the fact that you're drinking recycled pee and sweat, space station water "tastes like bottled water."

Another difference between the American and Russian sides of the station is that the Russians use silver to clean the water supply while the Americans use iodine, which Carter says is a useful difference. "It really makes a lot of sense to have dissimilar redundancies in the space station in case one of the systems has problems," he says. Around 93% of all the water on board is reclaimed, the Guardian notes, and the American recycling system churns out slightly more water each day than the Russian one, mainly because they recycle the unwanted Russian urine. "We collect it in bags, and then the crew hauls it over to the US side," Carter says. "We don't do 100% of the Russian urine. It depends on our time availability." (See a truly wild photo a guy managed to snap of a space station flyby.)

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