US, Russia can’t even agree on astronaut pee

It’s been a rough year for the people who keep the International Space Station (ISS) working. In June, Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket disintegrated less than three minutes after its launch, from Cape Canaveral, Fla., sending a cargo capsule plummeting into the Atlantic Ocean. The failure followed the October 2014 explosion of an Orbital Sciences rocket on a launchpadat the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. In April, a Russian Progress cargo ship carrying three tons of supplies spun out of control in orbit and was destroyed as it fell back to Earth.

The space station carries roughly 2,000 liters of water in reserve for emergencies, split about evenly between the US and the Russian sections of the ISS. The two sides operate separate water systems mainly because of decades-old decisions on how best to disinfect water.

When the space shuttle program began in 1981, its astronauts’ water relied on iodine, a common biocide for water that had long served as a staple for US troops operating in areas with suspect water supplies. Those standard practices carried over to the American side of the space station, which was launched in 1998. It’s an effective but inefficient way to clean the water supply, because it has to be filtered out before crew members can drink it. Too much iodine can cause the thyroid gland to become enlarged.

Source: THE TIMES OF INDIA

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