The week of May 17, 2015

How astronauts turn their pee into coffee

By Mike Wehner

If you woke up on planet Earth this morning, there’s a good chance you took your daily cup of coffee for granted. But when you live on the International Space Station, you don’t really have that luxury. If you want a tasty cup of Joe as you’re orbiting 250 miles above the planet’s surface, you’re going to be guzzling recycled pee.

NASA astronaut and popular Twitterer Scott Kelly decided to remind us all just how the residents of the ISS make their beverages complete with a fantastic low-gravity photo of the finished product.

It sure looks tasty, but the fact that it’s crafted using the astronauts urine means it’s probably easier to just close your eyes and pretend it’s been delivered by an orbiting Starbucks. Before you go writing off your space dreams because of a weak stomach, let’s take a look at just how space pee is converted to water, and eventually to coffee.

As you can see in the video above, recycling water on board the space station has become an extremely streamlined process in recent years, and the system is so efficient that the crew can reclaim over 90 percent of all water that is used on board the space station.


A version of this article originally appeared on the Daily Dot on April 22, 2015.

Photo via Scott Kelly/Twitter