Astronauts drink recycled urine
BBC News (w/video)
The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) have celebrated a new on-board water system by raising a toast of their own recycled urine.
They clinked their water bags together and said "cheers", before telling ground control the water was "great".
The system collects urine, sweat and atmospheric moisture and recycles it into purified water.
It is seen as an important step forward in plans to double the crew on the ISS by the end of May.
"This has been the stuff of science fiction," said Flight Engineer Mike Barratt.
"Everybody's talked about recycling water in a closed loop system but nobody's ever done it before. Here we are today with the first round of recycled water."
He told ground control that "the taste is great," but joked it should come in bottles with labels advising it should be drunk "when real water is over 200 miles away".
The system is connected to the station's Waste and Hygiene Compartment toilet and also recovers and recycles moisture from the station's atmosphere.
It was installed on the ISS in November 2008 and has been producing the water since March this year, when a valve was replaced.
The three astronauts were given approval to try the water on Wednesday, after tests on 20l (5.28 gallons) brought back to Earth by earlier missions deemed it safe for consumption.
The system will also "test out a key technology required for sending humans on long duration missions to the moon and Mars," said Mr Shireman.