All the more reason for experimenting with micro-brewing in microgravity... now there is a way to reuse the by-products!
Some of them anyway.
The Australian National University is preparing to build a plasma drive test facility on the back of an $AU4 million funding injection (No, I’m not going to explain the headline yet). The facility, to be built at the Mount Stromolo observatory, will create a “space-ready” test-bed for a plasma drive designed at the ANU’s Space …
So what kind of real world (well, real space) scenarios could this lead to?
Are we talking pro-longing the life of satellites by allowing for greater manoeuvring? Or are we saying this could lead to interstellar travelling?
My (very limited) understanding of a plasma drive is whilst it doesn’t have the same push as propellants it can push for a dam sight longer allowing faster speeds over longer distances. That be right yes?
Well, that depends on how powerful this drive is compared to other plasma drives already out there. The fact that it can use almost anything for fuel gives it a big advantage though. If you have to choose between using water or xenon for reaction mass, the former is considerably cheaper and easier to store in bulk quantities. The only reason not to use it is because mono-atomic hydrogen and oxygen have a tendency to eat almost anything they come into contact with over time.
I suspect this drive will mainly be used for station keeping and limited manoeuvring of stations, since it allows them to use what would otherwise be waste products. Conversely, most long range starships would probably have sufficient recycling in place that there wouldn't be any waste products to launch out the back if at all possible.
what he meant by the following remark : «In the International Space Station, there’s a system that extracts water from urine, known as the ‘Russian piss-presser’. The result ends up with a pH around one – we could easily use that.» ? Does he mean by «result» - the water that has been extracted ? If, indeed, it has a pH «around one», it would seem unlikely that passengers on the space station (which is hardly «international», as the US vetoes Chinese participation) would survive imbibing it. Or is he referring to the residue that is left after the apparatus extracts the water it can from passengers' urine ?...