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NASA Space

ISS Gets New Recycling Gear, Ready For Larger Crew 158

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yay-for-august dept.
TnGoastiiaiu submitted a space.com story that expands on coverage we've had earlier about improvements being made to the ISS to increase crew capacity. He writes "ISS gets new recycling gear that transforms human waste to drinking water. Some of the water will be used to get Oxygene, too. This way it will soon be possible to host more crew members. " Also, someone needs to smack the webmaster over there for putting a background texture behind the text. It's pretty unreadable along the left hand side of the screen.
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ISS Gets New Recycling Gear, Ready For Larger Crew

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  • by clang_jangle (975789) * on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:17AM (#24509629) Journal

    Also, someone needs to smack the webmaster over there for putting a background texture behind the text. It's pretty unreadable along the left hand side of the screen.

    Looks just fine in Safari and Firefox, both on OS X... Sounds like someone needs to check their settings/browser choice before setting off to "smack" anyone. :)
    As for trasforming human waste (just urine, according TFA) into drinking water, well, I'm just mighty glad I didn't choose to become an astronaut. I did wonder about this part, though:

    It can also be used to feed the station's U.S.-built oxygen generator, which uses electrolysis to split liquid water into breathable oxygen and waste hydrogen.

    Waste hydrogen? I would have expected them to have some use for that.

    • I'm not sure they have no use for waste hydrogen. Still, it may be that actually processing that hydrogen is (at the moment) prohibitive.
      We're looking here at having a stable installation, designed for imponderability, that's easily operated, lightweight, is shock-resistant, doesn't take much space and a bunch of other things.

      If they start using the technology, I'm sure they'll come up with something efficient for the extra hydrogen though ...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ivan256 (17499)

        Generally, that hydrogen will require oxygen(e) to be useful, and they're splitting the oxygen off for other uses already.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by gnick (1211984)

          Generally, that hydrogen will require oxygen(e) to be useful, and they're splitting the oxygen off for other uses already.

          Exactly - To use hydrogen, you typically either compress it or burn it. Compressing it is a lot of trouble and burning it is the exact opposite of extracting breathable oxygene* (a major goal).

          * Oxygene - Just like regular oxygen, but now with more electrolytes!

      • Hydrogen's fairly useless without a powerful compressor able to pressurize it and stuff it into tanks. Besides, we're not talking about lots and lots of hydrogen. Water is something like 89% oxygen by weight. It's actually a pretty convenient source of lots of breathable oxygen without fussing with compressed tanks as long as you have plenty of power to crack it with.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        For the recycling of waste water...why not just put everyone in "Still Suits"....

        I hear those work great on Dune....

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gnick (1211984)

          I believe that Still Suits were the original goal. Unfortunately, NASA ran into some copyright / prior art issues with Frank Herbert's estate and they had to resort to drinking reprocessed pee.

          Also, there are already a few posts (including FP) that include some "Eww, yuck" content. Pretty much all of us are drinking reprocessed pee to some degree. NASA's just getting efficient about it. Accept it - It's OK. Everything used to be something else. Even you.

          • Unfortunately, NASA ran into some copyright / prior art issues with Frank Herbert's estate and they had to resort to drinking reprocessed pee.

            Wouldn't that last run afoul of a certain Kevin Costner property [imdb.com] as well?

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by gnick (1211984)

              Unfortunately, NASA ran into some copyright / prior art issues with Frank Herbert's estate and they had to resort to drinking reprocessed pee.

              Wouldn't that last run afoul of a certain Kevin Costner property [imdb.com] as well?

              I wish you hadn't brought that up - It wouldn't have been an issue.

              There are a lot of people who have read Dune (or at least watched the mini-series [imdb.com] or had the movie [imdb.com] seared into their brains). But not even Costner sat through Waterworld - Since even the stage-hands and producers had blocked that movie out of their memories, nobody would have ever sued over the reprocessed pee scene.

              Thanks a lot for cluing them in...

              • Thanks a lot for cluing them in...

                Actually, t'were Dana Carvey who first mentioned it... while channeling Ross Perot:

                "You can't pee into a coffee filter and get Folgers crytals. It just doesn't work that way."

          • Stillsuits have never struck me as the most brilliant of ideas. Sweating is how the body gets rid of heat, if you want to recycle the sweat then you need to get rid of the heat in some other way.

            But if you have another way to get rid of heat it is probablly simpler just to keep the body cool enough that it doesn't sweat much.

            Once you do that then it will mainly be breath and pee that you have to worry about.

            • by Leto-II (1509)

              Stillsuits have never struck me as the most brilliant of ideas. Sweating is how the body gets rid of heat, if you want to recycle the sweat then you need to get rid of the heat in some other way.

              As a God Emperor I have some authority on this issue here.

              The stillsuits don't stop you from sweating. You still sweat when you get hot, but the sweat is then absorbed by the stillsuit and reprocessed into drinking water.

              • sure, which means the sweat does not evaporate into the atnosphere which means it doesn't serve it's purpose which is keeping the body cool.

                So you are going to need another system to keep the body cool.

                Once you have such a system it seems stupid to me not to just keep the body cool enough that it does not sweat significantly.

                • by Leto-II (1509)

                  Did I say absorbed? I didn't quite mean absorbed directly. It still evaporates. Whether it evaporates into the atmosphere or not doesn't matter so much. The evaporation process still cools the body.

                  Liet-Kynes:

                  The skin-contact layer's porous. Perspiration passes through it, having cooled the body ... near-normal evaporation process.

        • Still suits? The whole station is a suit. This has been done since Salyut and Mir [wikipedia.org]. The stilling [oregonstate.edu] is done by environmental control. Elektron [jamesoberg.com] oxygen generators then generate oxygen by splitting it from water.
      • Re:Waste hydrogen? (Score:5, Informative)

        by sunking2 (521698) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @11:33AM (#24510719)
        Booked for ones of the last shuttle launches is the Sabatier unit. This takes CO2 from the scrubbers and H from the OGA and produces H2O and methane. The H2O is then fed back into the OGA, methane is dumped. Though not needed for the ISS to function, it's a testbed for a WPA -> OGA -> SAB process which through normal water intake by the astros would allow for >=80% of the oxygen needed for a Mars trip. Or so we hope. Until then the H is useless as just about anything you'd want it for requires O2 and it's rather dangerous to keep around. The OGA has been up there for a year or so. Every few months when a progress brings some bags of water we go through a week of activations. This was actually the big reason that they had to fix the solar arrays last year. The OGA needs a decent amount of power and typically runs only during day time. About 60 out of every 90 minutes.
    • by dontPanik (1296779) <ndeselms&gmail,com> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:29AM (#24509825)
      The page looks fine on IE too.

      ...Not that I use Internet Explorer or anything!
    • Re:Waste hydrogen? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrvan (973822) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:33AM (#24509889)

      Waste hydrogen? I would have expected them to have some use for that.

      The obvious thing to do with hydrogen is to use it as fuel. But think about it: burning it would undo the electrolysis by consuming all the oxygen generated, so unless they are looking for a way to convert electricity into a chemical fuel, it isn't very useful...

      if oxygen is scarcer than energy, burning stuff isn't a sensible thing to do

      • Re:Waste hydrogen? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by LunaticTippy (872397) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:47AM (#24510087)
        You could still use it as fuel. Pressurize it using solar power and use it as an unburned positioning jet. If you're throwing it away anyway, you could get some use from it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by JesseMcDonald (536341)

        The hydrogen could be used as "fuel" (reaction mass) in an ion- or plasma-style engine. No oxygen required, just lots of electricity.

      • Re:Waste hydrogen? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeff1946 (944062) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:00PM (#24511071) Journal
        Best use is react with CO2 to form methane and water. Methane can be expelled thru resitojets (believe that is the right name) (electrically heated nozzles) to generate minor trust.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Looks fine in IE and Firefox (3) in Windows...

    • by Gewalt (1200451)
      I'm not sure what Taco did wrong, but the page looks fine to me [tinypic.com].
    • by Smivs (1197859)

      Re browsers: Just checked it (using XP) on I.E.7, Firefox, Safari and Opera and it rendered OK.
      Guess someone's browser is not set right. You're not using something awful like I.E 5 or 6 are you? NOTHING works on them.
      Try here [savethedevelopers.com] for something better.

      • by LMacG (118321)

        Akshully, it looks fine in IE6 on XP pro. (I'm at work, I don't have a choice!!!!)

        • by gnick (1211984)

          Akshully...
          --
          Slightly disreputable, albeit gregarious

          I think that your spell-checker is making fun of you by granting you that sig but missing Akshully != Actually. ;-)

    • by bitty (91794)

      He's probably running NoScript. You have to allow scripts from space.com for it to show up properly.

      • Exactly. But still, anyone using javascript for element alignment needs some smacking upside a head or two. Plus there is javascript from over ten different sources on that page. That's sad and scary. There should be a firefox extension that rates the trust worthiness of a site based upon things like the number of javascript sources, and the types of functions used. Feel free to tell me if such an extension exists and suggest other reasons for the smacking of heads.

    • Konqueror also renders it fine. (KDE 3.5.9) [imageshack.us]
    • by hardburn (141468) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @11:14AM (#24510467)

      I think it's enormously ironic that CmdrTaco can criticize anyone for website design.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by clang_jangle (975789) *
        Indeed. Although I do think he does a great job with the functional aspects, I usually view /. with the following style sheet. It helps me avoid that ginormous "white out" headache:

        @charset "UTF-8";
        /*
        Name: user2.css
        Version: 1.01
        Author: me
        Description: a css for tired li'l eyes...

        */

        * {
        background: Black !important;
        color: #BF5FFF !important;
        }

        input, textarea, select {
        background: Black !important;
        color: #912CEE !important;
        }

        button, input[type="file"], input[type="submit"], input[type="b
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Jeez, they may do that with your drinking water right now.

      The process is excellent. treated urine is perfectly safe to drink, and you can't tell it from any other water becasue after the treatment it IS water.

      I agree with the hydrogen statement. Seems like they could be testing fuel cells, or hydrogen generators.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by megaditto (982598)

        It depends how they treat it. For instance, most filters and some ion exchange membranes out there cannot remove small virus particles from solutions.

        I for one wouldn't enjoy the thought of drinking a glass of someone's HIV, herpes, or cancer viruses, even though they would probably be harmless at that point.

        I am not even going to mention all the homeopathy, alternative medicine, and other considerations that might come into play if they turn out to be true.

    • relatively cheap reaction to run it with CO2 and H2 => CH4 + O2. Then dump the CH4. But at this time, the ISS has limits on power.
    • by Fred_A (10934)

      As for trasforming human waste (just urine, according TFA) into drinking water, well, I'm just mighty glad I didn't choose to become an astronaut.

      Yes, we're lucky that kind of thing doesn't happen down here in nature. We wouldn't want to drink those yucky tainted atoms.

  • by ivan256 (17499) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:17AM (#24509631)

    Are they bringing any freeze-dried potatoe?

  • Yummie! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SanderDJ (1004445) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:18AM (#24509649)
    * Transform human waste to drinking water
    * ???
    * Profit!
  • by Thelasko (1196535) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:19AM (#24509659) Journal

    Some of the water will be used to get Oxygene [wikipedia.org]

  • What's Oxygene?

  • Oxygene (Score:5, Funny)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:20AM (#24509681)

    Jean-Michel Jarre songs are made of water? Who knew?

  • I always thought... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:25AM (#24509761) Journal
    the number of crew members aboard the ISS was limited by the size of the escape vehicle. [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ngarrang (1023425)

      the number of crew members aboard the ISS was limited by the size of the escape vehicle. [wikipedia.org]

      As did I. To wit, I figured they could just attached a second escape vehicle? But, aside from having to escape, the current system is limited in how much waste it can process, so limiting the number of active crew.

    • by RetiredMidn (441788) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:43AM (#24510023) Homepage
      IIRC, they now have enough docking ports to park a second Soyuz.
      • by richdun (672214) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:54AM (#24510205)
        Yes, a second Soyuz is the key for escape (that's why capacity will be 6, instead of the original 7 I think that could fit in the X-38). But they've also been limited by sleeping arrangements, which the new Node 3 will provide, along with having all the labs up and running. While the station might have supported 6 crew members on just the Russian and US sections, things would have been very cramped without the EU and Japanese labs around to help pay for things... er... I mean... give them all things to do.
    • PFF. Escape vehicles? We don't need any escape vehicles! This thing is indestructible. Nothing could go wrong. In other news, the ISS has been renamed the "Titanic Space Station".
    • My understanding was that the crew limitation was due to water availability. NASA never installed the recycling component of the ECLSS [firstscience.com]... thus requiring regular Shuttle resupply flights. They've been dumping waste water overboard (filling the Progress with "trash" for deorbit.) I've always thought it was criminal that NASA wasn't making self-sufficiency a primary goal of the ISS assembly process. It was pretty clear to me that they were delaying that capability as long as possible to justify additional
  • Webmaster? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swizec (978239) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:28AM (#24509811) Homepage

    Also, someone needs to smack the webmaster over there for putting a background texture behind the text. It's pretty unreadable along the left hand side of the screen.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't webmasters die along with the 90's?

    • by doti (966971)

      I used to use the Read Easily [mozilla.org] Firefox extension, that adds a toolbar button and a hotkey (Ctrl-Z) to toggle styles on and off. Perfect for tiny fonts, bad colors, etc.

      Now, Vimperator [mozdev.org] rendered many smaller extensions obsolete, I mapped the \ key to do it, with :map \ :invnum<CR>

      • or you can press Alt-v,y,n to turn styles off. (_v_iew ->page st_y_les ->_n_o style) and Alt-v,y,b to turn them back on again.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't webmasters die along with the 90's?

      Crappy jobs never die, they're only given fancier titles. I figure about now it's called "Chief 3xW Presence Officer" or something like that. Certainly noone else understands what he's talking about without a translator...

    • by pembo13 (770295)
      No.
    • by fbjon (692006)
      The webmaster is whoever is responsible for the development of the page/site, Chief Web Developer, if you will. It might have changed name, like everything else, but it's still there.
      • by Swizec (978239)
        Actually nowadays developers develop the site, designers design what it looks like and the client takes care of the content once the developers and designers are done dealing with it.

        Who out of this group is the proverbial "webmaster"?
  • Some of the water will be used to get Oxygene, too

    Anything which extends the reach of this classic tune is good in my books, although how they're going to accomplish it with plain old H2O is curious.

  • Oxygene? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Jean Michel Jarre will be most pleased!

  • You think that's air your breathing...comrade?
  • by Smivs (1197859)

    Drinking re-cycled urine...are they taking the piss?

  • It looks fine to me. I use Iceweasel 3.0 (Debianized rebranded version of Firefox 3.0 and current Iceweasel version in Lenny).

    • by truesaer (135079)

      I'm guessing the person who actually needs to be smacked is taco for using some weird browser that doesn't render the page like any of the mainstream browsers...

  • Also, someone needs to smack the webmaster over there for putting a background texture behind the text. It's pretty unreadable along the left hand side of the screen.

    Either they've fixed it already, or it works fine in Firefox 3 and IE 7, for me.

  • apparently is rocket science lol
  • Drink recycled water. It's good for the environment, and okay for you. ;)

    heh.

    Seriously though I'll keep trusting the natural rain cycle or distillation myself, not a filtering process.

  • The bearings that rotate the left solar panels during the course of an orbit to maximize sun exposure are damaged. These bearings are similar to your CV Boot in an automobile. Without rotation power is cut by more than half. It is then not sufficient to power all the modules. They are looking at repairs, but this subsystem was really designed for repairs.
  • But in a GOOD way.
  • The site does work in IE but not Firefox -- piss-poor webmastership either way.

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