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Saturday, March 23, 2024

Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin Go Key Pee Milestone for NASA Contract

The Worldwide Area Station will not be round without end, and NASA is pouring a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} into its potential replacements.

One promising candidate is Orbital Reef — a three way partnership between Jeff Bezos’s house firm Blue Origin and Sierra Area.

On Wednesday, NASA reported that Orbital Reef handed 4 key milestones for a few of its most important know-how, together with a system to recycle future astronauts’ and vacationers’ urine.

“These milestones are important to making sure {that a} business vacation spot can help human life,” Angela Hart, supervisor of NASA’s Industrial Low Earth Orbit Improvement Program, mentioned in NASA’s announcement.

The milestones concerned passing a collection of checks on Orbital Reef’s regenerative system. This method will present clear air and water for people to breathe and drink whereas on the house station.

Orbital Reef

Canonically, the hypothetical folks on this artist’s rendering of Orbital Reef are ingesting water from recycled urine.

Blue Origin

A few of the checks included the system’s skill to take away impurities from the air, get well urine for recycling, and preserve a water tank, NASA reported.

The ISS has an analogous system that recycles water and oxygen from, as NASA places it, “regular human actions” — a.okay.a largely respiration, sweating, and peeing. That is proper, the system turns pee into ingesting water.

“Earlier than you cringe on the considered ingesting your leftover wash water and your leftover urine, take into account that the water that we find yourself with is purer than many of the water that you simply drink every day at residence,” mentioned former ISS Commander Chris Hadfield in a 2013 video.

astronaut in n95 and goggles and medical gloves holds up a large cotton-looking rectangle in a small room inside the space station

Astronaut Matthias Maurer adjustments out the bladder within the system that squeezes the final water out of urine brine on the Worldwide Area Station.


In reality, astronauts on the ISS have been ingesting one another’s crystal-clean recycled urine for about 15 years, and for good motive. It helps cut back the quantity of water NASA would want to launch into house to maintain astronauts alive, thereby chopping launch prices and saving cash.

Blue Origin’s future house station

NASA awarded Blue Origin and Sierra Area $172 million as a part of its aim to develop commercialized, American-led house stations in low-Earth orbit that would exchange the ISS after it retires.

These replacements can be a spot the place NASA can proceed to ship its astronauts, leasing its personal quarters and laboratory house. Nevertheless, as a result of business firms would personal the stations, they will also be open to house vacationers.

“Assume spacious modules with giant home windows to view Earth, our blue origin, whereas experiencing the fun of weightlessness in full consolation,” Blue Origin states on its web site.

NASA is handing the following era of house stations over to business firms as a result of it has greater priorities that want funding. It prices NASA about $3 billion per 12 months to take care of the ISS program, proper now.

A view of the International Space Station from a spacecraft after undocking in 2021.

A view of the Worldwide Area Station from a spacecraft after undocking.

Thomas Pesquet/ESA through NASA

“The company is dedicated to persevering with to work with trade with the aim having a number of stations in orbit to make sure competitors, decrease prices, and meet the demand of NASA and different clients,” Hart mentioned in a NASA assertion in January.

With out the ISS, that can unencumber NASA’s funds to focus its efforts on establishing a everlasting human presence on the moon, together with an area station in lunar orbit and a base on the lunar floor, through its Artemis missions.

“General, we projected that complete Artemis prices will attain $93 billion between 2012 and 2025,” George Scott, NASA’s performing inspector basic mentioned throughout a authorities listening to in January including that this did not embrace the price of launches, which can be about $4.2 billion per launch for the primary 4 Artemis missions.

Finally, NASA hopes to channel its funds towards sending astronauts to Mars.

The ISS is on its approach out already

soyuz spacecraft approaches zarya module cylinder with solar panels above blue earth oceans

A Soyuz spacecraft approaches a docking port on the house station’s Zarya module.


It isn’t simply the cash. The ISS is getting old anyway. Cracks have appeared on one Russian module. One other part has been leaking air. In recent times the station has additionally skilled rest room failure, mysterious temperature variation, and an oxygen-supply system breakdown.

The Biden administration has dedicated to maintain the ISS working by means of no less than 2030. By then, NASA goals to have already got made the transition to no less than one privately owned house station. If all goes based on plan, the empty and decommissioned ISS will push itself into Earth’s environment and deplete because it plummets towards the ocean.

So there’s nonetheless a while to avoid wasting as much as catch a trip to Orbital Reef. Ticket prices are usually not obtainable, but. For reference, a visit to skim the sting of house for just some minutes through Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket can price tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars}.

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