What Do Astronauts Drink In Space?

The astronauts’ diet consists of different items, similar to what we consume on earth. Over a hundred various products are included in the menu used in the International Space Station, including but not limited to meal boxes, desserts, snacks, mustard, and ketchup.

But, the question here is: what do astronauts drink in space? Is this what you are thinking at the moment? If yes, this guide has got you covered. Let’s delve deeper into the details!

What Kinds Of Liquids Do Astronauts Drink in Space?

Well, people interested in the astronomy domain or those who want to choose this field as their professional career mostly ask the same question. There is no fixed liquid for the astronauts to drink in space; rather, they can benefit from multiple drinks keeping their preferences and interests in mind. A list consisting of frequently used liquids in space is:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Flavored Drinks
  • Fruit Punches
  • Orange Juice
  • Lemonade

Out of all the above-listed liquids, the consumption of water is greater.

Important Note: Astronauts can’t drink as we do on earth. To stop the liquid from spreading everywhere in space, astronauts use special equipment when drinking. Pouches having built-in straws are preferred. Sometimes, astronauts take soft drinks with customized nozzles. These nozzles help astronauts easily drink in space.

Why Don’t Astronauts Take Water Tanks With Them?

They don’t carry water tanks in space because the transportation cost for sending water tanks is simply too high. We can take SpaceX rocket launching as an example. Elon Musk’s innovation costs over $1,800 per pound while moving from earth to space. Therefore, it is economically unfeasible to transport water (to or) from the earth. A couple of effective approaches have been introduced to deal with these challenges, and we’ll discuss them below.

How Do They Ensure a Continuous Water Supply?

While staying in the International Space Station (ISS), the water source will get empty after some time. This is where recycling plays its part. When replenishing the water supply, a single drop of sweat or breath is not enough. Six different people, with a few visitors, can easily travel and live in the ISS at a time. Therefore, the breathing and sweating of every individual result in maintaining the level of inner humidity as well as replenishing the water supply once they are condensed.

The water management system installed in the ISS is very efficient in terms of extracting even the last drop coming from sweat, hand-washing, breath, or residue from the shower. As far as its taste is concerned, it is more like bottled water. You can’t even differentiate between it and bottled water if you don’t know that it’s recycled.

How Do They Drink Water?

The process of drinking water in space differs from how we drink it on earth. If astronauts drink water like we do on earth, it will spread everywhere. To deal with this challenge, the astronauts carry special bags with customized tubes or nozzles to easily drink water or liquid of their own choice. These bags are specifically designed for astronauts and people visiting space for research or other similar purposes.

Drink packets floating. Orange pineapple drink, cold water, and Kona-coffee (black) are visible. Photo was taken during Expedition 34. Source: NASA/JSC

How Can Astronauts Drink Tea in Space?

Tea has been a favorite drink of many astronauts for a while now. In 2003, a famous astronaut – Don Pettit – presented a distinct way to brew tea on the ISS. Like water, the way of drinking tea in space differs from how we drink it on earth. To get a perfect cup of tea, astronauts boil water at 140°F, add tea mixture to the boiled water, and carefully dissolve it.

Do you know? You can’t apply standard convection laws in space. Therefore, astronauts should benefit from the heat pipes (having partial vacuums) to evenly distribute the heat in an orbital station.

Gravity plays a crucial role when boiling water. If you use cold water to prepare tea, it will fall to the mixture’s bottom, whereas the hot water comes to the top. But, when astronauts use heated pipes, this effect gets mitigated.

A-Must Remember: If you plan a trip to space, never heat water or any liquid over 140°F to prepare tea. This is sort of a safety measure and helps you brew a perfect cup of tea.

Is It a Good Idea to Drink Coffee on the ISS?

Yes, several astronauts love drinking coffee (packed in sealed plastic bags) with a straw when traveling to space for a mission. This freeze-dried drink has proved to be a potential fuel for them. To get the maximum out of a cup of coffee, astronauts prepare it using the ISSpresso machine. It is special equipment designed to prepare a range of beverages, including but not limited to broth, tea, and coffee. If you prepare coffee with this machine, you don’t have to use a sealed plastic bag to brew it because a “zero-G coffee cup” will do the job.

ISSpresso machine on the International Space Station. Source: NASA/JSC

Do Astronauts Drink Recycled Urine in Space?

Well, two different concepts exist in this regard. Americans and Russians have different water management systems and never agreed on a single solution. The Russians do not use recycled urine, whereas the Americans drink it.

The current systems, without a doubt, are effective. But, they are not as efficient as they should be. The research scientists are going the extra mile to design and develop more efficient machines to reduce the loss of water and reclaim water from waste materials.

Water Recovery System’s rack 2.  Its primary purpose is to process urine and waster water. Source: NASA/KSC

Which Beverage or Liquid Should Astronauts Avoid Taking?

Now that you have the answer to the question, “What Do Astronauts Drink In Space,” you may wonder if there is a drink that astronauts should avoid taking. You may find a hot debate on Coke or soda pop. Consuming these drinks in space is not a good idea.

The beverages you drink in space behave differently than if you drink them on earth. Therefore, when you take carbonated drinks to space, the bubbles inside the liquid remain within it, rather than coming to the top of the surface. It usually results in creating digestive discomfort for astronauts.

Astronauts should avoid drinking soda in space


“What do astronauts drink” is a commonly asked query and there is no fixed liquid to be taken. Being an astronaut, you can benefit from various drinks including tea, coffee, water, lemonade, orange juice, and a few more. It is way too expensive to bring up water tanks, plus the weight is way too much to add to a space shuttle. A water management system on the ISS allows astronauts to use recycled water from sweat, hand-washing, breath, or residue from the shower, and even urine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can an astronaut drink alcohol?

Answer: Nasa has banned the use of alcohol in space (during any mission). The reason behind this fact is that it can respond to any situation instantly. However, Edwin Buzz is the only astronaut who used alcohol during one of his space missions.

Question: Does every astronaut drink recycled water in space?

Answer: Yes, it is true to a great extent. Approximately 80% of water is recycled in the ISS. Mostly, astronauts don’t think of it, but they drink recycled water replenished from the sweat and breath of the crew members.

Question: How are liquids and food packed before astronauts take them to space?

Answer: The packaging process of food and drinks you want to take to space is similar to what the military follows. Cans, retort pouches, and zip lock bags are mostly used to protect liquids and food items so that you can carry them carefully. The reason behind using these packaging bags is that they are compact, lightweight, and come with an airtight packaging facility.

Related Posts

Astronomy has mesmerized me since my father introduced me to space magazines and telescopes. My dedication to astronomy and the pursuit of knowledge has led me to various places, experts, and answers I hope to share with everyone one day.

Leave a Comment