Spiders, Urine Recycler Aboard for Space Shuttle Launch

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"The thought of drinking this water may turn some people off, but once it has been processed, tested, and proven 'clean,' fill my glass!"

But the flight's more mundane cargo will be appreciated, too. Said payload manager Joe Delai: "You know as your family grows, that second bathroom can become very handy. Well, our ISS family is growing and having a second toilet is a good thing."

Creepy Crawlies

Live cargo will also accompany the crew on this trip: young spiders and butterflies and the nectar and fruit flies on which they'll feed.

The creatures are part of two experiments involving hundreds of elementary and middle school students in Colorado.

For the first experiment, astronauts will observe the life cycle of painted lady butterflies in space, while students monitor the creatures in classrooms on Earth.

The second experiment will compare the ability of an orb-weaving spider to spin webs and catch food on Earth and in space.

Bioserve Space Technologies, at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will downlink videos and images of the spiders and butterflies from the space station to its partners: the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado, and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Eileen Patrick is a librarian at Rocky Mountain Elementary School in Westminster, Colorado, near Denver. As of Thursday, her butterfly larvae were incubating in her bathroom.

If they survive the weekend, she'll begin her experiment next week with the 30 or so fourth and fifth graders who attend her after-school science program.

"If you want to raise the next generation of scientists, you don't wait until they're halfway through college to engage them in science, to fire them up," she said. "Live animals are immediately fascinating and engaging to kids."

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