Toilets in Space – How to use toilets in space is a question many people won’t have considered.
Recently on a trip to Kennedy Space Centre this was something that we researched. So how do Astronauts go to the toilet with little gravity?
How does it work?
On the ISS – International Space Station, astronauts sit on a plate – sized toilet hole. A vacuum sucks the excrement away and then a separate funnel with a fan suctions the liquid away
The astronauts fasten their bodies to the toilet, so that, they won’t float away! They then use a vacuum-cleaner-like machine to suck up the waste. A curtain, not a door, partitions the toilet space, so there is not as much privacy as you may be used to at home.
What happens to the waste?
First, the air flow draws the waste away from the body, then flushes it into storage tanks. Solid waste, is dried by the vacuum and brought back to earth for disposal. Liquid on the other hand, goes into a container that’s exposed to the vacuum of space or can possibly be treated and used as drinking water for the Astronauts – the ultimate in recycling!
What about Space walks?
For every space walking the astronaut can be out of the station for up to 6 hours so they have to wear a large, absorbent nappy style pad called a Maximum Absorption Garment (MAG) to collect urine and faeces while in the space suit. The astronaut disposes the MAG when the spacewalk is over and he/she gets dressed in regular work clothes
How much does a space toilet cost? – it’s not cheap!
NASA has agreed to pay $19 million for a Russian-built toilet system for the international space station. The figure may sound astronomical for a toilet in space, but NASA officials said it was cheaper than building their own toilets in space
So what is the future of going to the toilet in space I hear you cry?
If we ever hope to send humans to Mars, it’s a looooong journey. Nobody wants to hear a mission commander having to tell another astronaut that they, ‘should have gone before we left!’
Whilst there are many potential contenders planning to send people to Mars, NASA is pinning its hopes on the Orion spacecraft. And whilst there are many individuals working on the spacecraft itself, others are working on toilets ins space issues
In 2016 NASA issued a contest called, ‘The Space Poop Challenge‘. The contest called for people to submit ideas to create spacesuits that allow you eat, drink, and go to the toilet – all without having to take it off for six days. Quite clearly nappies aren’t going to cut it.
The design needs to allow an astronaut to go to the toilet inside a space suit that collects human waste for up to 144 hours and routes it away from the body, without the use of hands. The system had to operate in the conditions of space – where solids, fluids, and gases float around in micro-gravity … and don’t necessarily mix or act the way they would on earth.
Quite a challenge!
Luckily here on planet earth there is a more straight forward way of covering your toilet needs. Griffin Toilet Hire can provide portable toilets for building works or events. We are available Monday to Friday during office hours to take your calls and advise you of the best solution for your needs. 01278 773770