Friday, July 31, 2009

Toilets in Space!

Astronauts have to put up with a lot. Weird space suits. Freeze dried ice cream. Extreme temperatures. Not only that, when you're on the space station and your toilet craps out, you're pretty much sh*t out of luck.

That's what happened on the International Space Station (ISS) recently. And if you're superstitious, you might even think, that's what they get for putting 13 astronauts on one space station. Mission Control even told them to hang an "Out of Order" sign on the door. I bet the astronauts are pissed. But hey, I guess this is just a reminder that astronauts are people, too.

And since they are people, and they probably digest food and liquids, this means they need to evacuate every once in a while. And thanks to Prince Phillip's inquisitive mind, we have this lovely article to tell us how it's done.

Thing is, when you're on the space station, and the toilet is broken, you can't exactly just head out to the nearest McDonald's. But they do have the Shuttle Endeavor's facilities, which almost certainly are more cramped and uncomfortable than the ISS one looks to be:

And if they all crap out, then they reportedly have "Apollo-era" urine collection bags on hand. No mention of what to do with No. 2. But that sounds great. I'm sure they're real happy about that. There is also another back-up toilet on the Russian side, and that will be nice if the Americans get to use it, since, earlier this year, a Russian apparently got upset at not being able to use the US toilet due to "billing and cost issues." Sigh. Even when you get into space, you can't get away from it all.

Photos: NASA/BBC

{Thanks to Agent B for submitting the story from Slashdot!}

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