Space.com is reporting that the new sweat and urine purification system that recently arrived on the International Space Station has failed, and required four days of work by astronauts to get it into working order. And yet parts of the $154 million water recovery system may get sent back to Earth for further repairs. We’ve always been fans of high tech space science and the space program overall, but is a $154 million water filtration system, that is now failing, a good way to spend money?
During recent start-up tests, the recycling system’s urine processor shut down after only two hours in action. A separate sweat and wastewater processor has been working more or less as expected.
After Sunday’s repair attempt, astronauts reported hearing a new sound from the device, though it initially continued functioning even after flight controllers began seeing symptoms related to the earlier shutdowns. But less than three hours after its new start-up the unit shut down once more after processing about a gallon (3.8 liters) of urine collected by the station crew.
“That’s a third of a tank right there, so that sounds like potential,” said Fincke. “It looks like we made things better, but we’re still maybe not there yet.”
The urine processor is designed to run for about four hours at a time, but vibrations within its spinning centrifuge may be leading to some unexpected contact inside the intricate machine, forcing it to draw more power, slow its motor and ultimately shut down, mission managers have said.
Here’s a video report about the purification system from Space.com:
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