WASHINGTON -- How do you quench someone's thirst when there's plenty of water, but not a drop that's drinkable?
NASA researchers have considered that question for years and now villagers in Iraq and tsunami victims in Asia may get a taste of the answer this fall -- long before any astronaut does.
The Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama is testing a device intended for the space station. It recycles astronauts' sweat, respiration and even urine into drinking water purer than any found in a tap.
Next month, Nevada-based investment firm Crestridge plans to break ground on the first manufacturing plant for the Earth-based water processing devices. By September, it hopes to send truck and trailer-mounted units to Iraq and larger ones to southeast Asia.
Many wells in Iraq have been contaminated by dead animals dumped when Saddam Hussein was in power. Ocean salt polluted many streams in the tsunami zone.