In Mary Roach's new book Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, she explores the decidedly unglamorous underside of spaceflight: from engineering the bathroom habits of astronauts to zero-gravity gastronomy.
One of the more fascinating bits of history she has unearthed is in a chapter titled "Eating Your Pants: Is Mars Worth It?" where Roach recounts how scientists in the 1960s tried to wrap their heads around the problem of creating a space diet aboard a future manned mission to Mars that could last for up to three years.
In particular, she revisits the ideas of D.L. Worf, a scientist with the Martin Marietta Company, who proposed the ultimate in recycling: crafting parts of the spacecraft out of edible materials so that they could be eaten by astronauts on their way back to Earth.Read More >
On Wednesday, astronauts aboard the international space station got their first taste of drinking water recycled from their own urine.
As they toasted one another with their drinking bags, American astronaut Michael Barratt marveled, "The taste is great." When Russian astronaut Gennady Padalka gulped a drop of the water that floated in front of him, Barratt added that the water formerly known as pee was "worth chasing."