NASA buys space station toilet


space-toilet.jpgI suppose it takes more than just unzipping one’s fly when trying to relieve oneself in the gravity-less environment of space. Since drinks in a glass often end up as globules of water in space, it just makes me wonder what a stream of urine will look like. Tiny droplets floating around? Anyway, I dare not carry my imagination further and leave the thinking to those who are paid to do so – the brilliant folks at NASA. Apparently, after whipping out their calculator, it seems that NASA concluded paying $19 million to purchase a Russian-built international space station toilet system is by far more affordable than building one from scratch.

According to Lynnette Madison, a NASA spokeswoman, building a space station toilet system is somewhat the equivalent of building a municipal treatment center on earth, which is no mean feat by any standards. Another notable advantage would be the familiarity of the astronauts navigating their way through the system when using it, since it is similar in nature to the current one in place at the space station. What’s more, this new system is more than capable of producing pure drinking water after processing the urine collected in a device. It is expected that this space station toilet system will arrive sometime next year, offering a whole lot more privacy to a crew that is tipped to double from three to half a dozen by 2009. This system will be installed on the American side, whereas the current toilet system on the Russian side will continue operating.

For the benefit of those on earth, the space station toilet physically resembles those found down here, save for the addition of additional leg restraints and thigh bars that prevent astronauts from floating away while performing their “business”. Fans will suck any sort of waste into the commode, and each crew member has individual urine funnels which are attached to hoses. So while Americans won the race to the moon first, I presume Russian cosmonauts were the first to have a better time relieving themselves in space.

Source: Xinhua Online

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