Recycling in not just a green lifestyle in space, but a necessity since transporting things to and from Earth tends to be expensive. NASA’s International Space Station recycles air and water as much as possible. Now NASA has developed a way to recycle solid waste, according to a Jan. 7, 2013 story in Space.com.
NASA is now testing a trash compactor that transforms solid waste, such as plastic bottles, duct tape, and clothing scraps, into eight inch by half inch sized disks, using pressure and heat. The process reduces the trash to one tenth the original size and squeezes out water that can then be reused.
These disks can be used to supplement radiation shielding, especially on deep space missions beyond the Earth’s magnetic field where cosmic rays can prove to be a hazard. Recycling solid waste in this manner can also be useful for providing building material for future space colonies.