Using a Space Toilet

Toilets 1278 Views
Using a Space Toilet

While indoor plumbing has improved living conditions for many people in the world, astronauts have had to find alternate methods for human waste disposal.

As the weightless environment in space would make using flushing toilets we employ here on Earth into a disgusting nightmare, space toilets on the International Space Station instead move human waste with air flow, similar to a vacuum cleaner.

Liquid waste is handled by a long tube that is fitted to work for men and women, while solid waste is collected by a plastic bag assisted by a suction ‘seat,’ then deposited in a container. Since both of these tasks need to be done in zero gravity, astronauts must first secure themselves with belts or foot holds before attempting to answer nature’s call.

If the space toilet ever malfunctions, there are currently no plumbers who make calls to the International Space Station, so the repairs must be done either by the station’s regular crew, or a new toilet needs to be delivered to the station via shuttle.