CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


NASA astronauts to drink their own urine today?

The latest NASA mission is trying out a new water recycling device.

I know readers of this site have strong constitutions.

But as the NASA rocket thingy shot up to the skies last night for another interesting mission, the only thing on my mind was the water they will drink.

Because it appears that they will be testing the idea of sipping their own recycled urine.

I know, I know. There are many cities in the world where the tap water is undrinkable. And I had hoped that this was merely a cost-cutting move in our tight times. But the fact is that this wastewater recycling gizmoid cost $250 million and is one of the featured experiments on this trip. Two more nuggets of information that make my natural ease turn to quease.

"We did blind taste tests of the water. Nobody had any strong objections. Other than a faint taste of iodine, it is just as refreshing as any other kind of water," NASA's lead urinary engineer Bob Bagdigian told the Daily Telegraph.

A small suggestion, just in case there's any spillage. CC Dyobmit

I understand that it's not easy keeping astronauts hydrated out there in the black beyond. And I know that there have even been Prime Ministers who swore by drinking their own entirely unrecycled piddle.

But some small part of me wishes there was, as Tony Blair always used to waffle, a third way.

This will be one of the last ten flights of the Space Shuttle. It is being retired and after 2010 the only flights to the space station will be Soyuzes.

But the current aim is for 92% of all the water drunk on board to be produced by the crew's urinary tracts and the moisture in the air- some of which might be created, one supposes, by sweating crew members.

The claim is that the astronauts will only be testing the system and not drinking on this trip. However, if you're intrepid enough to squeeze into a shuttle then surely you have the gumption and fascination to take a small tot of your recycled liquid waste. Just like the trying the wine in a restaurant, isn't it?

Well yes, except that when you listen to the chemistry of the process, Lord, it might turn your tummy. They distill, filtrate and oxidate.

The final gourmet touch is the addition of that little smidgen of iodine to control microbial growth. Which I'm assuming is something to do with little mites feeding on your waste and having babies half way down your throat.

I am sorry. As Heidi Klum always says on Project Runway: "one day urine and the next day urout." I'm out.