November 28, 2008

Endeavour Astronaut Creates Zero-Gravity Cup

Endeavour astronaut Don Pettit has created a cup designed to be used in zero-gravity conditions.

The cup wicks liquids along the sides of a piece of folded plastic. Traditionally, astronauts are forced to drink from sealed pouches using straws. Petit developed the cup using a sheet of transparent plastic used in overhead projectors because he disliked drinking his coffee from a straw.

"The way this works is the cross-section of this cup looks like an airplane wing. The narrow angle here will wick the coffee up," Pettit explained in a video radioed to NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston and broadcast on NASA TV.

"We can sip most of the fluid out of these cups and we no longer have to drink our beverages sucking through a straw in a pouch," he said.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station shared a Thanksgiving meal. Petit made a cup for crewmate Stephen Bowen and the two shared a holiday toast.

One of the Shuttle's main mission was to install a $250 million water recycling system enables the Space Station crew to recycle urine and other wastewater into drinking water.

The shuttle's 21-foot-long payload bay carried about 15,000 pounds of equipment that will help the space station house six crew members next year as opposed to three in the past.

Using a robotic arm, Endeavor's astronauts loaded other housewarming items onto the space station, including an exercise machine, kitchenette, two sleeping compartments and a contraption that recycles urine into drinking water.

Endeavour is due back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday after a 16-day mission.


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