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NASA licences rat-wee based astronaut sports drink

The Right Stuff™: should have been called Rodent Gold™?

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NASA has offered for general sale a high-tech "electrolytic rehydration drink" developed to keep astronauts in top shape under the physiological stresses of orbital flight. For a truly authentic astronaut experience, Earthbound drinkers of "The Right Stuff™" may wish to mix their cutting-edge space beverage with (purified) rat piss.

"We developed the hydration formula to perform optimally under the most extreme conditions. The health of our highly trained astronauts was paramount," explains John Greenleaf PhD, who invented The Right Stuff™ drink while employed at NASA's Ames Research Centre in California. He's now an adviser at Wellness Brands, which has acquired the astro sports-drink licence from the space agency.

"With all that Americans and the government have invested in the space program and our astronauts, this is one clear way to protect and maximize that investment," adds Greenleaf. "And now the general public will benefit from this research as well."

According to Wellness Brands:

NASA scientists conducted extensive testing to develop the patented formulation. The formula has been used by the astronauts during missions for nearly 20 years and has been tested in controlled clinical environments on Earth.

Astronauts continue to use the patented formula on space missions to prevent the symptoms of dehydration.

It works so well for the astronauts ... you can imagine how well it will work for athletes here on Earth!

The super-duper sports drink is referred to by Greenleaf and Ames colleagues as a "hyperhydration drink" in a NASA tech memo (pdf) dating from 1994, so the Stuff™ has indeed been under development for a very long time.

Naturally, given the huge costs of space launch, astronauts don't drink bottled sports drinks of the Lucozade sort. Rather, comparatively lightweight special additives are mixed with water to concoct the hyperhydrational goodness which keeps a human body in tiptop shape even after a sweaty session on the zero-G treadmill or a punishing spacesuited struggle with recalcitrant orbital fittings.

In former times - during long space shuttle missions, for instance - the water for the Stuff™ might be obtained from such sources as fuel-cell generator exhaust. The Russian Mir space station, frequently visited by NASA astronauts in the 1990s, had a system for harvesting floating sweat droplets from its atmosphere and recycling them for drinks.

Nowadays, as is well known to regular Reg readers, the tricky problem of recycling every last drop of water from human and animal wastes - urine etc - has at last been satisfactorily solved. The new six-person crews of the International Space Station, the main human spaceflight activity of the coming decade, will quench their thirst with refreshments mixed primarily from self-sourced liquids.

And it's not just the astronauts who give every last drop to keep the taps flowing aboard the ISS. As NASA's Layne Carter reveals, a full experimental complement of 72 rats aboard the space station equals "about one human in terms of water reclamation". The Right Stuff™ as quaffed in space is mixed six parts to one from recycled human and rat sweat and urine respectively.

Of course, the re-wee used in space is probably far more pure and healthy than average tap water (or even bottled) down on Earth. Even so, you can see why Wellness Brands haven't chosen to highlight this aspect of their cutting-edge space beverage technology in their marketing.

Rat Sweat™ or Yesterday's Coffee™ probably wouldn't do nearly as well. And to be fair, as every astronaut is deemed to have plenty of the right stuff in them - and presumably so does every spacegoing rat - perhaps the trade name is quite appropriate after all.

There's more from NASA here. ®

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