Urine in space: not the glamour you probably imagined

SPENDING a year in space may not be all it's cracked up to be.

There's a lot of messy housekeeping when you are in orbit.

Like ensuring your re-treated urine transfer rate worked out.

Time is keeping track of Scott Kelly, one of six crew members on the International Space Station (ISS).

A monthly NASA blog details the challenge of their schedule - the long, checklist of items that have to be completed every single day.

Some of them are the glamour stuff of space travel-spacewalks, formation-flying with arriving vehicles, TV broadcasts to the folks back home.

Some are a good deal more mundane, such as troubleshooting the stubbornly low flow rate in a system that is supposed to filter and recycle urine into ordinary drinking water.

On May 22, the crew woke up to a list of 65 must-do items; three days later it was 67; the next day was a lighter day by comparison, with a scant 55.

A lot of what was done on those days was indeed very big stuff.

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On May 26,  Scott Kelly and crewmate Terry Virts oversaw the transfer of the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) from one berthing site to another on the station.

As Time reported, it is both much more important and much more difficult than it sounds. For one thing, the module weighs 11 tons.

And like most station modules, it's roughly the size of a school bus.

 

 

Relocating it meant three control centre had to work in tandem: Mission Control in Houston; the Mobile Servicing Systems Operations Center in Quebec, Canada, which oversees the work of the station's robotic arm; and the station itself, with Kelly and Virts in charge.

It will be worth the effort.

By 2017, two new commercial crew vehicles built by Boeing and SpaceX will begin flying to the station, freeing the U.S. from its reliance on the Russian Soyuz.

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