How Do Astronauts Drink in Space?

Astronauts drink in space by using special equipment, such as internally pressurized bottles, collapsible pouches, drinking tubes and coffee cups designed to function in zero gravity. Available drinks include coffee, tea, fruit punches, juice and lemonade.

Overcoming the dilemma of how to drink in space involves compensating for an environment in which there is no gravity. Liquids cannot be poured or sipped, or they float away. Drinks are sent into space as dehydrated powder, and astronauts add water through a special tube to liquefy them. The zero-gravity coffee cup uses a special principle involving a container with a sharp angle that allows the coffee to flow to the astronaut's mouth. In experiments with carbonated beverages, such as soft drinks and beer, astronauts found that the carbon dioxide bubbles, instead of floating to the top, remain evenly distributed throughout the drink. This creates a beverage that is overall much more foamy. To allow astronauts to drink carbonated drinks, researchers devised a special bottle with a collapsible bag inside. The bottle maintains a steady pressure around the drink. Soft drinks were dispensed and beer was brewed aboard the space station as experiments, but these beverages are not yet standard fare.

To provide the water for drinks in space, most of the liquids used on the space station are recycled, including breath exhalation, sweat, urine and water from tooth brushing and hand washing. Water is expensive to bring from Earth, so it is important to make every drop count, though some is inevitably lost from airlocks, CO2 removal systems and water recycling systems.