November 26, 2008

Astronauts Collect Samples Of Recycled Urine Before Undocking

Endeavor astronauts aboard the International Space Station worked against the clock to collect as many recycled urine samples as possible after finally completing tests on the system on Tuesday.

The system is crucial for future missions to the orbiting outpost, as it is expected to double the size of occupancy from three to six residents next year.

Astronauts jokingly referred to the contraption's process as turning "yesterday's coffee into today's coffee."

"Now we're not going to be drinking this today," shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson said, holding up the first batch of processed urine.

"Beginning probably, oh, maybe next spring or so, we'll get the green light to go ahead,"

Endeavor astronauts will be bringing samples from the contraption to be analyzed on Earth by NASA.

The device, part of a $250 million new life-support system aboard the station, shut down during three previous attempts to purify urine.

Astronaut Donald Pettit, who worked on the urine processor, said it's normal to have a few hiccups with new equipment.

"You have to remember that this is serial number zero-zero-one for a brand new technology which we're testing out here on space station," Pettit said.

Endeavor is expected to undock from the orbiting outpost on Friday carrying six one-liter containers of recycled urine, according to flight director Holly Ridings.

Endeavour returns to Earth on Saturday.


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