/ Modified jul 4, 2016 6:05 a.m.

Tucson Company Improving Space Mission Water Quality

Paragon Space Development process increases recycled water.

International Space Station spot The Iternational Space Station in orbit around Earth

A Tucson company is developing a water purification system for space travel that will recover up to 98 percent of the liquid from astronauts’ urine for drinking and experiments.

Paragon Space Development got a $5 million grant from NASA to improve a water processing system that is already in use aboard the International Space Station. The goal is to increase the amount of water that can be reused on the orbiting station and eventually for missions to Mars. Now, about 80 percent of the urine is recycled.

“Our technology recovers that last 20 percent of water out of the urine so they can get up to overall recycling 98 percent of the water on the space station. Not only will it save the space station a lot of money but for doing a mission to Mars where you can’t just launch more water along when they run out or when they start getting low,” said Laura Kelsey, the principal investigator for the contract.

The water purification system developed by Paragon uses a series of membranes to distill more water out of the brine. Kelsey says the water that is recovered goes through a second processing to make it potable.

The upgraded processing system will be tested on the space station in 2018.

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