Boeing Starliner Assists ISS with Processing Large Amount of Stored Urine

Astronauts onboard the Boeing Starliner can now relax knowing that a brand new pump for the urine processor has successfully been installed on the spacecraft. The pump was a last-minute addition after the scheduled replacement was moved up due to an unexpected failure. This led to the International Space Station (ISS) having to store an excessive amount of urine, highlighting the critical need for the new pump.

NASA’s ISS Program Manager, Dana Weigel, emphasized the importance of recycling every drop of water on the station, making the malfunctioning pump a pressing issue. The successful transport of NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to the ISS by the Boeing Starliner marked a historic moment and showcased the spacecraft’s potential as a reliable mode of transportation for astronauts.

Despite the celebratory mood surrounding the astronauts’ arrival, the priority remained on getting the urine processor installed without delay. The pump’s installation required some reshuffling of supplies, including astronaut clothes, to make room for the essential hardware. The astronauts were not hindered by this adjustment as they always have redundancies in place.

The significance of the ISS toilet and urine processor was underscored by the closed-loop system of the space station. Water is a scarce resource in space, making it vital to recycle every drop, including urine. The installation of the large pump was a top priority for the ISS team, with its success influencing the decision on when the Starliner will undock from the station.

Once the urine processor is up and running, the Starliner is expected to depart from the ISS in about a week, carrying the astronauts back to the U.S. southwest for landing. The successful installation of the new pump ensures that astronauts aboard the ISS can continue their crucial work with operational bathroom facilities.