Home Science Space What Russians Won't Do That the US Will on the ISS

What Russians Won’t Do That the US Will on the ISS

It wasn’t all that long ago when the U.S. and Russia were locked in a race to space.

Back then, it would have been hard to believe they’d be living together on an International Space Station (ISS).

Even though relationships are now on the mend, it seems there is one thing the two countries will not agree on, and that is the necessity to drink their own urine.

Layne Carter, the water subsystem manager for the ISS, said: “It tastes like bottled water, as long as you can psychologically get past the point that it’s recycled urine and condensate that comes out of the air,” reported The Guardian.

The water that is being reclaimed has been collected from the breath and sweat of the ISS crew, as well as the shower runoff and also from the urine of the astronauts and the animals that live on board the Space Station.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, while on board the ISS, explains in a YouTube video: “Ninety-three percent of all the water on board is reclaimed; we can recycle about 6,000 extra liters of water for the station each year.”

Hadfield adds: “Before you cringe at the thought of drinking your leftover wash water and your leftover urine, keep in mind that the water that we end up with is purer than most of the water that you drink at home. That makes the International Space Station its own self-contained environment. That’s a critical step towards living for long periods off of planet Earth.”

According to Bloomberg: “The space station carries roughly 2,000 liters of water in reserve for emergencies, split about evenly between the U.S. and the Russian sections of the ISS. The two sides operate separate water systems mainly because of decades-old decisions on how best to disinfect water.”

“The U.S. water recycling system produces about 3.6 gallons per day, for an average of three NASA crew on the ISS, slightly more than the Russians yield from processing just condensate and shower water into a potable supply,” Bloomberg added.

But lucky for the U.S. the Russians are willing to share with Carter, telling Bloomberg: “We collect it in bags, and then the crew hauls it over to the U.S. side; we don’t do 100 percent of the Russian urine. It depends on our time availability.”

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Troy Oakes
Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.

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