HOUSTON: After several days without luck, astronauts finally ran a successful test on equipment that turns urine into drinking water — a necessity for supporting the International Space Station’s crew, which will soon double.
“Not to spoil anything, but I think up here the appropriate words are ‘Yippee!’” space station commander Mike Fincke told Mission Control early on Tuesday, shortly before bedtime. “There will be dancing later,” Mission Control replied.
Astronauts had spent a frustrating five days trying to get the urine processor working. But until early on Tuesday, the machine could not last the four hours needed for a successful test run.
Another test was planned overnight while the seven astronauts on the docked space shuttle Endeavour and the three space station crew members slept.
NASA added a 16th day to Endeavour’s mission so astronauts could tinker with the urine processor before the shuttle returns to the earth, possibly with the troubled equipment packed aboard. NASA managers had debated bringing part of the contraption back to the earth for repairs if tests were not successful.
Endeavour is now set to undock on Friday and land in Florida on Sunday.
The urine processor makes up a section of the $154 million water recycling system that was delivered to the space station by Endeavour. The machine is crucial to providing drinking water for the space station’s crew. — AP
6 months ago