When the Atlantis crew blasts off, they will be carrying an experimental textbook-sized kit with them that is capable of converting tainted fluids, including urine, into drinkable water fortified with electrolytes.
Unlike the urine filter that the space shuttle already employs for drinking water, the bag uses a process called forward osmosis to get the job done without using electricity. Wired writes:
NASA’s recycler will use a sugary solution injected into a semi-permeable inner bag, which is nested inside an outer bag. Dirty fluid that’s pumped into the outer bag will slowly pass through the inner bag and into the sugary solution, leaving behind its contaminants. On Earth, the double-sack system makes about a liter of sports drink-like fluid in four to six hours.
Apparently, the recycler will be tested by one of the astronauts on the mission with a fluid that isn’t their own urine. We can already think of one man who would be thrilled with this technology…
Fortunately for Bear, the same company that makes the bags also sells a version that is available right here on Earth for $23 a 6-pack.