When I was 12 years old and an avid skateboarder (with no source of income), I'd often resort to looting my garage for old boards with spare parts like wheels, trucks, nuts, and screws—to improvise when I needed new gear, but couldn't afford it.
NASA is kind of doing the interstellar equivalent right now: they're dipping into exhibitions of old space shuttles in museums and stripping parts to be used on the International Space Station. Yikes. Times must be tough at the NASA household.
This week, the Endeavor (retired in 2011, now on display at California Science Center) had four interior water tanks removed. In May, the shuttle Atlantis (out to pasture in the Kennedy Space Center) had the same internal gutting, with its water tanks removed, as well.
Things actually might not be as bleak as they seem, though. NASA spokesperson Daniel Huot told New Scientist the 300 liter tanks are still in good working order, because the shuttles never ended up flying as many missions as originally intended. “Using the shuttle tanks could greatly reduce the overall cost to build the new system,” he added.
The tanks, which serve as storage for water supplies (obviously), have no set timeline as to when they'll reach the space station. Though if things are this bad for NASA, maybe they should reach out Elon Musk? He's into this kind of stuff, and I heard he's got some extra cash lying around...