NASA turns astronauts’ urine into drink

NASA is turning astronauts’ urine into a tasty sports drink.

The US space shuttle Atlantis, carrying a crew of four, arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday to deliver a last batch of supplies, and is expected to test the recycling system before the end of their mission.

The technology behind the textbook-sized kit, referred to as a ‘‘baggie system’’, has already been used by soldiers to filter out parasites, bacteria, viruses and other contaminants from dirty fluids, including urine, but is yet to prove itself in space.

NASA scientist Howard Levine told Wired: "This could be a first step toward recapturing the humidity from our sweat, from our breath, even from our urine, and recycling it and making it drinkable."

The International Space Station already has equipment capable of recycling urine but unlike the new baggies the old equipment sucks power from the station's already limited supply, AFP reports.

On Earth the system has shown to make about a litre of sports drink fluid in four to six hours.

It will be tested by one of the four Atlantis crew members towards the end of their 12-day mission, AFP reports.

The Atlantis shuttle mission marks the end of an era in human spaceflight.

The United States will soon have no spacecraft capable of taking astronauts into orbit, leaving Russia's three-seat Soyuz capsule as the sole taxi to the ISS, at a cost of $51 million per ticket.

More than one million people came to Florida on Friday to see off the mission.