Astronaut Explains Drinking Water in Space

International Space Station reclaims almost 100 percent of water on board for reuse
Astronaut Explains Drinking Water in Space
Astronaut Chris Hadfield shows an example of how water used to be delivered in bags to the ISS. (Canadian Space Agency YouTube channel)

Ever wonder how astronauts get clean water in space? Without access to complex drinking water facilities like the ones you operate here on Earth, they created a keg-sized water recycling system. 

Astronaut Chris Hadfield, commander of the self-sustaining International Space Station (ISS), became somewhat of an Internet sensation with regular, and sometimes entertaining, video uploads to the Canadian Space Agency’s YouTube channel. Stationed on the Expedition 35, Hadfield just returned from a five-month mission. 

His most recent post details the water purification process at the ISS: 

“Water consumption is critical on earth, but even more so here on the International Space Station where we have a closed environment,” Hadfield says in the video. 

He explains that water on the ISS that gets expelled through washing, making coffee and sweating is collected into a purification system. And yes, even urine is purified and reused. They reclaim about 93 percent of all the water on board. 

Hadfield shows an example of how water used to be delivered in bags to the ISS. Since 2010, the on-board purification system can purify water so it doesn’t need to be stored in bags, and it can recycle up to 6,000 liters of wastewater each year. 

The drinking water systems you operate are definitely different than the one aboard the ISS, but clean water sustainability is universal. And you might not be heading into space anytime soon, but rest assured that your clean water knowledge is vital to the industry and to your customers. 

Perhaps a video explaining water system processes posted to your facility’s website would help customers understand — and appreciate — what you do to get water to the taps. 



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