Ponca City, We love you writes: "Astronauts flying aboard space shuttle Endeavour are delivering a device to the International Space Station that may leave you wondering if Nasa is taking recycling too far. Among the ship's cargo is a water regeneration system that distills, filters, ionizes and oxidizes wastewater — including urine — into fresh water for drinking or, as one astronaut puts it, "will make yesterday's coffee into today's coffee". The US space agency spent $250m for the water recycling equipment but with the space shuttles due to retire in two years, Nasa needed to make sure the station crew would have a good supply of fresh water. "When the shuttles retire, that nice water-delivery system that we have will go away," said Endeavour astronaut Sandra Magnus. The Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) uses a purification process called vapor compression distillation: urine is boiled until the water in it turns to steam. In space, there's an additional challenge: steam doesn't rise, so the entire distillation system is spun to create artificial gravity to separate the steam from the brine. The water has been thoroughly tested on Earth, including blind taste tests that pitted recycled urine with similarly treated tap water. "Some people may think it's downright disgusting, but if it's done correctly, you process water that's purer than what you drink here on Earth," said Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper."
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