back to article Endeavour launch heralds new dawn for piss-drinking

Space shuttle Endeavour safely blasted off from Kennedy Space Center this evening, delivering extra living space for the International Space Station and the promise of cold, refreshing recycled urine on tap. As part of their 15-day mission, the astronauts will deliver two new sleeping units, a kitchenette, exercise equipment, …

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  1. bandor

    british haeumour

    >> The water recycling equipment can process a full day's wastewater in less than 24 hours.<<

    is there a name for this kind of sarcasm?

  2. James O'Brien
    Coat

    Say it aint so

    "The shuttle also brings a $250m wastewater recycling kit designed to purify urine and evaporated perspiration into clean drinking water.

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

    $250 million? TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY BLOODY FUCKING MILLION!!!???

    Seriously? Dont we have better things to spend money on then THIS?

    And not to mention "We did a blind taste test"......I really hope to god that the testers WERE blind....else they might have noticed the yellow tinge to the water.

    /Hat, coat, funnel please. Thanks

  3. Michael

    The water recycling equipment can process a full day's wastewater in less than 24 hours.

    Well, if it couldn't, it'd be pretty fucking useless wouldn't it?

  4. OffBeatMammal
    Coat

    $250m for a piss filter?

    it's the blooming Fisher Space Pen all over again! The Septics spend a fortune on inventing some technology and the Ruskies use a pencil!

    I mean... certain breweries have just been putting bubbles in it an selling it for years (and I suspect Iron Brew is the Scots taking the piss out of all of us somehow)

    I've seen Waterworld ... I'm sure Kevin Costner didn't have a $250m filter on his little boat!

    Yours is the jacket with the wet handprint (no towels in the gents)

  5. Stuart Van Onselen
    Unhappy

    Yeah, $250,000,000 seems like a lot of money...

    ...but, it's less than one dollar for every septic out there. :-)

    OffBeatMammal: According to Snopes, the story of the Fisher Space Pen vs. the Ruskie has a grain of truth to it, but is far from the full truth: http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

    But still, the idea of spending that much on a water-treatment facility that only needs to be big enough to support 6 people does sound ludicrous. Except that it also has to work in weightlessness, survive temperature extremes, survive the G-forces of take-off, and needs to be utterly reliable. (While having your water-supply dry up is not nearly as bad as your oxygen running out, it is still rather inconvenient. )

    Then, add in the research needed, plus the fact that it's a one-off construction, with no economies of scale or broad amortising of costs, and all the testing to make sure it does meet those requirements, and you can easily end up with a device costing upwards of $25 million.

    What's that? You say it actually costs $250 million, not just $25 million?

    MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY!!! Sorry NASA, I tried my best to defend you, but by Einsein's Beard, how the flying fk do you justify that?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Aww, I got all excited.

    Here I thought it was a breakthrough. You know, like Tang.

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    What do you think you are dinking?

    In the UK, sewerage plant output has to be processed to drinking water quality. Guess what happens next.

    A quick web search for reverse osmosis drinking water shows a 50GPD system for $199. If they mean US liquid gallons per day, that is about 190Kg/day. In the UK people average 150Kg/day (380Kg/day in the US). Even if 10 astronauts use drinking water to water the garden and wash the car and flush the loo, $4000 should be enough.

  8. Allan Dyer Silver badge
    Coat

    Someone is taking the piss...

    By blind test, did they mean that the drinkers did not go blind afterwards?

    OK, OK, I'll get my coat, the title deserves it, but someone had to try to be first...

  9. Anton Ivanov
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Say it aint so

    1. It also works as a dehumidifier.

    2. It has to use reverse osmosis and/or a couple of other technologies which require no extra chemicals and it takes full "dump" not just "miller light" on the input so there is also the issue of filtering, solid separation and so on.

    3. It has to have MTBF in the 5+ years range.

    4. It all has to work in a weightless environment

    So with all due respect, a piss filter will not do here. While 250M is a bit on the extreme, developing such a device with less than a double digit (million) budget does not look like possible.

  10. Joe Cooper

    Space pen

    They did not spend millions on a space pen. That's a myth.

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. jake Silver badge

    Myths, discombobulated.

    "The Septics spend a fortune on inventing some technology and the Ruskies use a pencil!"

    As an "in the trenches" dude back in the mid 70s thru' late 80s, I can assure you that carbon from pencils caused a whole lot of trouble in electronic circuitry.

    You see, there were these little four or eight-bit switches that people toggled with pencil points ... and promptly shorted out the logic circuits. I have seen it, I have fixed it. It happened.

    The "space pen" was another issue entirely.

  13. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Joke

    Classic line

    <astronaut> Do we drink each others or stick to our own?

  14. Steven Knox Silver badge
    Coat

    Why not..

    just issue stillsuits to the ISS crew?

    The one with the gom jabbar in the pocket, thanks.

  15. Warhelmet
    Coat

    Duh...

    Would dehydrated turds burning up on re-entry be shiiting star?

    I know that Mir stank inside of stale sweat and farts. But is not also the case that taste and smell don't work so good?

    What was the name of the space chimp who beat himself off as stress-relief? I've worked with people like that.

  16. Steve

    Waste of money

    Just stick a Budweiser label on it and the US astronauts would pay to drink it unprocessed...

  17. Christoph Silver badge
    Boffin

    Re the usual 'piis drinking' jokes

    Where do you think the water down here comes from?

    There's really pure water here in London - it must be, it's been filtered through so many kidneys.

  18. George
    Thumb Up

    I think $250m is not bad...

    ...licence that technology out and you will easy make that back and plus with future missions going further and needing to fly light this will pay itself anyway.

    Look beyond your noses people, it's like the Labour government on El Reg at the moment.

  19. Andus McCoatover
    Joke

    Why didn't they..

    ..simply have one extra shuttle launch, with nowt but a big-fuc*k-off water tank on board, and float it near the ISS, connected by a hose?? 'Bout the same cost, and bit more reliable.

    Who's gonna get a swift nack in the kickers when that high-tech piss-filter goes the same way as that bloody 'fridge, and gets tossed to Earth?

    (Incidentally, would that be "giving the piss")?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    I watched it...

    I stayed up and watched it last night...

    The TV presenter actually tried the water and said it tasted "no worse than any other bottled water"... even after the tech describing the machine said of the sample "there's probably a bit of me in there"

    Yes, $250m is expensive, but they will have got an extremely useful bit of kit out of it... how much would it cost to send regular supplies of water up to the station over the lifetime of the unit? Especially when the shuttles stop flying? Also, they will have at least 3 of them (a spare and a test unit) and several spares I expect, so the price per unit does come down a bit

    All went smoothly, other than the "no-go for launch" at 15 minutes before because some pleb had forgotten to pin a door back in the white room!!

    Also, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper for some reason is known as "Heidi Piper"

  21. twelvebore
    Paris Hilton

    What's the problem?

    I dunno why people are complaining so much about the $250M. Either you want manned spaceflight or you don't. Anything involving manned spaceflight is expensive because you have to care about little details like not making holes in your astronauts that you needn't care about for robotic missions.

    Would $250M not spent of space-khazis be better spent elsewhere? Unlikely. Governments don't tend to work that way. If the money and engineering resources weren't spent on that they'd be spent on, eg. military space-laser-zap tech. Or ID cards. Or maybe the money could be spent paying chavs to have more unwanted babies. Or to strategy boutiques to come up with new logos for the Department of Personal Information Misplacement.

    Water recovery systems will be critical to missions, eg. a manned trip to Mars, or colonization of the Moon. Check out the price of launching a days supply of water from Earth to the Moon. Or Mars.

    By all means argue against the cost-effectiveness of manned spaceflight, but if you're for it you have to accept that the costs can be eye-watering.

    Paris: because she knows a thing or two about taking the piss.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Relief?

    "Magnus will remain at the space station, relieving Gregory Chamitoff, "

    Just as well she brought a $250m loo, then...

  23. lardheppus
    Coat

    A small piss for a man, a giant leak for all mankind

    The slightly stained anorak, olease

  24. Nick
    Coat

    Lister to RedDwarf...

    ...we've recycled the water supply so many times it's beginning to taste like Dutch lager.

  25. Damien Cahill
    Coat

    They should market this as..

    ... I Can't Believe It's Not Piss.

    I think its a go-er.

  26. Joe Cooper

    Launch costs

    250 million seems pretty high but considering the obscene cost of launching weight to the station, it'll pay for itself pretty quick!

  27. David Grimiore

    Is it just me...

    or did anyone else think that a few crates of beer were being flown up there?

    btw I am an aussie where getting on the piss is a national past time.

  28. Jared Earle
    Thumb Down

    Pencil?

    Pencils are a great idea in space, because what you really need in a zero-gravity environment relying on life-or-death electronics is tiny conductive graphite particles floating around. Excellent work.

    (That's sarcasm, in case you missed it.)

  29. yeah, right.

    Makes sense

    It's $25,000 for the unit, and $249,975,000 for the 3 year on-site service contract.

  30. Alan Fisher

    Something is missing in space

    which normal machines might need to work...that might explain the additional expense??

    Plus the weight for lift, user accessible repair and so forth?

  31. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I say

    Kinda takes the glory out of being an astronaut, doesn't it ?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Re: Warhelmet

    "What was the name of the space chimp who beat himself off as stress-relief?"

    That would be Dubya.

  33. wsm

    Re: Makes sense

    Has the BOFH taken on a space-supplies contract?

  34. twat
    Unhappy

    Already had some

    I had some in the pub last night. It said pils on the bottle, but I think that must be a mis-spelling.

  35. Daniel B.
    Coat

    Fremen Tech

    Hm... it seems like NASA has made the first step towards the Fremen Stillsuit. I recall that one recycled water from both #1 and #2's.

    Arrakis is waiting!

  36. Adam White
    Alien

    You have to walk without rhythm...

    ...so you won't attract a Worm

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