back to article Terror in orbit: ISS piss recycler in fire alarm mishap

A quarter-billion-dollar recycler unit - shipped into orbit aboard the space shuttle so as to slake the thirst of hardworking astronauts with a revitalising crystal flow of their own reprocessed urine - is playing up. According to the AP, space aces aboard the International Space Station (ISS), to which the shuttle Endeavour …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Windows Vista Embedded

    Sweeeeeet the embedded version of Vista is to blame Im sure. NASA spends big on everything else but when it comes to the OS they choose to go with the latest greatest from M$.

    (Im sure this isnt the case but I can see it now.....


    /mines the one with the rubber hose attached

  2. Hollerith

    best of the day

    're-wee machine'. lost a mouthful of diet Coke on that one.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Fire alarm connected to plumbing!?

    What worries me is that a code bug in the recycler could trigger a fire alarm...

  4. yeah, right.

    test batch?

    I hope it managed to produce a test batch of water, rather than a test batch of urine? Or even PROCESS a test batch of urine, not produce it. Otherwise... eww.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    wee-cycling (space) station?

    The problem is if the astronauts need to wee on it to put the fire out, all it would do is make the fire bigger... oops!

    Paris because the media's always taking the p*ss out of her too.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Lulled into a false sense of security...

    ...the crew returns to sleep completely unaware that hidden in the new module a slavering alien - relieved and relaxed after a quick visit to the little xenomorph's room - is about to embark on 110 minutes of special-effects filled carnage and sexually suggestive egg laying until, in the dying scenes, it is (wo)mano-a-xeno with Astronaut Piper.

    The dramatic final battle will play out like a ferocious arm wrestle until the xeno is knocked into a fiery re-entry by the standard issue NASA toolkit that Astronaut Piper cunningly put into elliptical orbit* at the beginning of the film. I mean mission.

    Oh, and on the subject of suggested ablutionary device nomenclature "Number ones: Piss Taker", "Number twos: Moon Raker".

    * deus ex machina+chekhov's gun!**

    ** ***

    *** ,

  7. Sam

    Urea combustible?

    You mean we can turn piss into petrol?

  8. Paul

    they should have fitted it with a nintendo control panel

    ... to have a wii wee machine

    mine's the one with with the space helmet attached

  9. Ross Fleming
    Thumb Up

    Love it

    "Despite the sudden panic, however, neither of them allowed their toolbags to get away from them on this occasion."

    Love it

  10. jack horner

    Taking the piss

    "Urea-related compounds can in fact make effective explosives.."

    wtf - are you trying to get us all arrested!


  11. Bill Cumming

    That's the last thing A&E need..

    They had to put up with drunk PFY's at 4am Sunday morning after trying to light farts and getting burned..

    ...Now after this story, they have a whole new set of burns to explain to the nurse.....

  12. jake Silver badge

    I've got a question ...

    Why in the fuck is ElReg trying to make this subject into a tee-hee, teen-age locker room type of humorous thing? Surely you realize that cool, clear rainwater is evaporated whale piss? (And the result of desiccating cow shit, etc.)

    I'd much rather see an article on how it works from a technical perspective.

  13. Les Matthew


    "a mouthful of diet Coke"

    You know what unrecycled piss tastes like then.

  14. SpeakerToAliens

    "... make effective explosives..."

    Four centuries ago, one of the components of gunpowder used to be obtained from excreted liquid waste. Back there and back then it was collected in buckets every morning and "stored" until the crystals formed. It was even believed that a bishops nightwater made the best component for gunpowder.

    Whether there's any connection with the phrase "taking the piss" I don't know.

    Mine's the one with the O-level Chemistry text book (c1970) in the pocket, with a bookmark on page 74 (the formula for gunpowder).

  15. Random Noise
    Black Helicopters

    Reg link

    So you want us to click on the link in the article so we have bomb making plans in our cache. Then you'll pass on our IP details to the gubberment so we can be processed for 42 days as a terrist.


  16. jack horner


    Hey! The Register is providing a valuable service to all us friendless insomniacs by allowing us to snigger at jokes that we know most other people would respond to with blank incomprehension.

    Please don't try to take that away!


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shy bladder syndrome...

    It's just a timing glitch. The firealarm was supposed to go off earlier, to help encourage the reluctant astronauts to provide the test samples...

    One of the ISS crew is said to refer to the weecycler as a coffee machine: it turns yesterday's coffee into today's coffee. Now we know why they have to drink starbucks, to hide the taste...

  18. Andus McCoatover

    Said it already...

    "Unfortunately, a loud fire alarm was triggered at once"

    Bet that made them wet their pants...Oh dear...

    Now, lob that piss-filter after that bloody 'fridge. And don't crayon a fuc*king Mahatma Coat flag on it this time. Sheesh.

  19. jake Silver badge

    @jack horner

    "Hey! The Register is providing a valuable service to all us friendless insomniacs by allowing us to snigger at jokes that we know most other people would respond to with blank incomprehension."

    I get the joke. Ha ha. But once is enough. I'm on "watching the mares who are trying to foal early" duty between 6PM and 2AM Pacific time (one of our hands is an early riser and volunteered to set his alarm for the 2AM-6AM shift; we all keep an eye on 'em 6-6) ... ANYway, I'd much rather occupy my time with a detailed technical article than repetitive teen-age locker room humo(u)r ... but that's just me.

    "Please don't try to take that away!"

    I'm not. I'm voicing an opinion. If enough people share that opinion, ElReg may take notice. And promptly ignore us. Or perhaps make changes to suit the readership.

  20. Jims
    Thumb Up

    Send in the Space Mechanics

    I can pitcure the scene, space mechanic scratching his backside whilst looking at the wee-cycler.

    "Yeah, I see your problem, you've got orb spider webbing all over the heat-exchanger. It's gonna cost you about £300 plus labour for me to clean it."

  21. Tom Paine

    Manchestuh in the urea?


    Meanwhile, the evasive toolbag's been caught on video by an amateur observer. I am not making this up.

    Mine's the one slowly descending from 320km...

  22. Stewart Wood

    See there makeing Urea nitrate Explosives in space

    Maybe they can use this as a New Bio Fuel to make Urea nitrate Rockets and make mini remote controlled rockets and attach them to toolsbags / Space junk / space suites to give them a little extra thrust to return them home to the ISS or to return them to the earth

    I call it the Emergency Bio Rocket Return System ^o^ (E.B.R.R.S)

  23. Mat

    @ Sam

    Well according to Donald Duck Dunn; The Blues Brothers Band had "a sound powerful enough to turn goats piss into gasoline!" So yeah - I guess you could be right.

    Anyway - 'recyc' urine tasts just like Dutch Lager according to Kryten (if you recycle it too many times!)

  24. TeeCee Gold badge

    It's obviously smarter than they think.

    Doesn't sound like a software error.

    It's programmed to take the piss out of them, so it waits 'til they're outside on a complex spacewalk and sets off the fire alarms.

    Works for me. I'll bet if they listen to the audio feed at the time they'll hear it sniggering.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Obligatory piss joke

    I once worked with a ex-Chemistry teacher who claimed that he gave up teaching in despair after a pupil once asked him: "Sir, is urea soluble?"

  26. William Towle

    Re: It's obviously smarter than they think

    <quote>It's programmed to take the piss out of them, so it waits 'til they're outside on a complex spacewalk and sets off the fire alarms.</quote>

    Preceeded by "Dave? Don't you *dare* do that here, Dave"...

  27. Anonymous Coward

    effective explosives

    "We are not making this ground for fear up. Urea-related compounds can in fact make effective explosives"

    erm, yes but it is the *NITRATE* which give it explosive properties, and then it would need to be dry, and exposed to a flame or incandescant material. The chemistry to go from urea -> urea nitrate is also pretty unlikely to happen accidently.

    I qute like the idea of exploding billion dollar piss pots in space, but, sadly, this ain't how it's gonna happen.

  28. Andrew Duffin

    Piss awful procurement, what?

    They need a machine THAT big to do what's basically a reverse osmosis job?

    Looks like another $600 hammer to me.

    Why not just pop along to your local friendly yacht chandler, where watermakers that turn sea-water into drinking water are pretty much a commidity at a few $hundred.

    I know it's not quite the same task, but it's not that different, is it?

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