What’s the difference between American and Russian astronauts on the International Space Station? The Americans drink their urine, the Russians don’t.
“It tastes like bottled water,” Layne Carter, water subsystem manager for the ISS at Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Center told Bloomberg. “As long as you can psychologically get past the point that it’s recycled urine and condensate that comes out of the air.”
Condensate is the collected breath and sweat of the crew, shower runoff, and urine from animals on board the station. Specifically, 12 mice that came with the Japanese cargo ship, the Kounotori 5 or White Stork, that successfully docked on Monday.
Ninety-three percent of all the water on board is reclaimed, according to a video posted by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield while he was on the space station in 2013.
“We can recycle about 6,000 extra liters of water for the station each year,” Hadfield said.
While the Americans are the only ones who filter their urine, both sets of astronauts gather condensate from the air. They have separate water systems and have never agreed on how to filter their water, according to Bloomberg.