Glitch with urine recycler could cause Endeavour mission extension
NASA on Friday was trouble shooting a problem with a state-of-the-art urine reprocessor delivered to the International Space Station by the space shuttle Endeavour, dpa reported.
There appeared to be a problem with a centrifuge on a distillation component of the Urine Processor Assembly, flight director Courtenay McMillan said Friday. It could simply be that a sensor was causing the system to shut off as astronauts tried to run tests on the system that will turn urine and sweat into drinkable water.
But NASA was still trying to determine exactly where the problem lay as it could cause the space agency to extend the crew's mission by one day. McMillan said no decision about an extension had yet been made.
NASA expected that there would be trouble-shooting problems with the device and had left open the possibility of a longer mission.
In a press conference, Endeavour astronauts stressed that they were willing to spend an extra day in space if it meant they could bring back a sample of recycled water to be tested on Earth.
The water recycler was perhaps the most high-profile piece of equipment delivered to ISS in an "extreme home improvement" mission that should allow the station to double the size of its crews to six astronauts.
Despite the potential "ick" factor, ISS commander Mike Fincke told journalists he was quite willing to drink the recycled water. "It's probably more pure than most people's tap water, so I'm not afraid to drink it," he said.