NASA Takes Inspiration From Kevin Costner’s Waterworld With Recycling Pee Into Water

NASA is now able to turn astronauts urine into drinking water.

By Britta DeVore | Published

Life is imitating art as NASA has found a way to turn water into wine – or rather urine into water allá the opening scene of the Kevin Costner-led film, Waterworld. While it sounds like something straight out of a dystopian sci-fi story (because it is), this marks a major milestone that will undoubtedly help the further advancement of discoveries in space.

Originally reported by, the International Space Station’s Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) is setting out the reuse 98 percent of the water astronauts will be traveling with, with the end goal of capturing just about any and every bit of liquid that comes off of them.

Dubbed the “Urine Processor Assembly,” NASA will use vacuum distillation to collect the crew members’ pee and turn it back into water. According to the agency, the procedure will pull the reusable water from urine brine, something that’s already been tested with a 98 percent retrieval success.

And, it’s not only urine that will be getting the reduce, reuse, recycle treatment as the ECLSS has invented a system of “advanced dehumidifiers” that will also harvest the astronaut’s breath and sweat as they work throughout the day. Hydrating!

While the idea of having a nice cold cup of your repurposed urine may be gross to some (all) of us, NASA’s ECLSS water subsystems manager, Jill Williamson, drove the point home that in no way shape or form are crew members drinking urine. In a process carried out in a similar way as our water plants treat our water, Williamson says that the only difference is that this is “just done in microgravity.”


Continuing to push her stance, Williamson went on to say that the urine water is, in fact, “cleaner than what we drink here on Earth” – a tidbit that will certainly help sell more water purifiers and make us question what’s really in the stuff coming out of our sinks.

Of course, this urine-to-water technology is one giant leap for mankind as it will change what’s possible for the future of space research. As Christopher Brown, a member of NASA’s International Space Station’s life support system says, this discovery and invention will help push the “evolution of life support systems” forward in a major way.

Breaking it down for those of us lacking degrees in science and technology, Brown explains that for every 100 pounds of water gathered on the station, you can expect to lose two pounds but with this new system, this means that 98 percent can be recycled and reused again and again.

This is just the latest headline-making story for NASA as the agency has found itself in the news on more than one occasion as of late.

From stories of asteroid explorations to the hope of finding life on the moon, and the less favorable Mars mission that has us talking about the ridiculous price tag, NASA has been kicking things into high gear to boldly go where no man has gone before. Although space life sounds interesting and exciting, we think we’ll keep our feet firmly planted on Earth – even if the water may be less clean here.

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