NASA Successfully Recycles 98% of Water Aboard the ISS

Category Engineering

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NASA has announced that astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have achieved a water recovery rate of 98 percent, thanks to their Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS). The system uses advanced dehumidifiers, as well as a Water Processor Assembly (WPA), a Urine Processor Assembly (UPA), and a Brine Processor Assembly (BPA), to collect water from sweat, urine, and the atmosphere, and process it into drinkable water for the ISS crew to use. This remarkable achievement is an important milestone in NASA's efforts to create a sustainable life-support system for astronauts on long-duration space missions.

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In an exciting announcement, NASA has announced that astronauts aboard the International Space Stion(ISS) have achieved a water recovery rate of 98 percent. The ISS used its Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) to achieve this remarkable goal, according to a press release. The ECLSS is a combination of multiple water recovery systems, including advanced dehumidifiers, a Water Processor Assembly (WPA), a Urine Processor Assembly (UPA), and a Brine Processor Assembly (BPA). You read it right. Water was recycled from sweat and urine. Space missions beyond low Earth orbit, such as those to the Moon or Mars, present unique challenges when it comes to effectively managing crew supplies. Therefore, they require a comprehensive approach to resource management, emphasizing recycling, regeneration, and sustainable practices. The aim is to minimize reliance on resupply missions and enable crews to sustain themselves for extended durations in the challenging environments of deep space. NASA has been developing and testing life support missions on the ISS that can help provide basic needs for the crew without resupply missions.

The ISS is moving at about 90 minutes per orbit, meaning it’s travelling at over 17,500 mph.

The ECLSS water recovery system .

The ECLSS is designed to provide a habitable environment and essential life support for astronauts. In addition to recycling water, the ECLSS is responsible for managing air supply and atmosphere control, thermal control, and radiation protection. The water recovery system of the ECLSS collects wastewater from various sources, including urine, humidity condensation, and other sources of moisture within the spacecraft. The advanced dehumidifiers collect wastewater from the astronauts' breath and sweat. The UPA is responsible for recovering water from urine. It successfully distills urine but produces brine as a by-product, which makes the water undrinkable. This is where the BPA comes in handy.

The total number of people who have been to space is 569 astronauts.

The BPA is responsible for extracting the brine and providing drinkable water. The BPA takes the brine produced by the UPA and passes it via a series of specialized membranes before introducing it to dry air, which evaporates its water content. This produces humid air, similar to that produced by the ISS crew members' breath, which is collected by ECLSS dehumidifiers. The WPA then treats all wastewater through a series of filters and a catalytic reactor, which breaks down any leftover contaminants in the water. Before the water is stored, sensors test the water quality to ensure it is suitable for drinking. If the standards are not met, the water is returned for processing. Additionally, iodine is added to inhibit the growth of microbes, after which the water is stored for later use by the crew.

The Space Shuttle Discovery was the longest-serving and most-flown orbiter of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.

Achieving 98 percent recovered water .

According to NASA's recent assessments, the BPA was the main component that helped them to achieve a 98 percent water recovery goal in microgravity. Christopher Brown, a member of the Johnson Space Center, said, "This is a very important step forward in the evolution of life support systems. Let's say you collect 100 pounds of water at the station. You lose two pounds of that, and the other 98% just keeps goin’ and goin’, and that's the kind of performance we need to make these long-duration space missions happen." .

The ISS has spent over 230,000 orbits around the Earth, travelling over 4.85 billion miles.

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