London, Nov 22 : NASA's new water regeneration system, which has been delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) for recycling urine and other wastewater into drinking water for astronauts, has encountered glitches.
NASA delivered the water regeneration system to the 100 billion dollar ISS to prepare for its crew to grow from three members to six in May.
Residents of the station must recycle water because the space shuttles, which produce water as a byproduct of their electrical systems, will no longer fly to the outpost after 2010 and it is too expensive to haul as much water as the crew will need on unmanned cargo ships from Earth.
According to a report in New Scientist, glitches in the machine triggered two shutdowns during initial attempts on November 20 and 21 to begin the distillation process on pre-collected samples of urine.
The recycler problems, which pointed to a sensor, were not unexpected, according to mission commentator Rob Navias.
NASA still expects the machine to work well enough for astronauts to bring back batches of purified water for analysis when shuttle Endeavour returns to Earth next week.
The shuttle has been at the station since Sunday to deliver more than 7 tonnes of cargo to support an expanded crew.
In addition to the water recycling gear, the shuttle astronauts delivered two new sleeping compartments, a second toilet, a galley and more exercise equipment.
NASA plans eight more missions to the station and a final servicing call to the Hubble Space Telescope before the shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.