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There's nothing as beautiful as a urine dump at sunset.
June 14, 2008 8:24 AM   Subscribe

How space toilets work. They've come a long way. They sure don't look like the one in my house. What happens when they break? NPR explains the logistics of the repair process. Oh thank heavens, it's working again.
posted by desjardins (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Going to the toilet is easy down here on Earth

This sounds like small talk that an alien would make in an attempt to fit in.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:44 AM on June 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


So the next time you see a beautiful shooting star...

Ha! That is one wry mufugging astronaut.
posted by nosila at 8:50 AM on June 14, 2008


The Apollo astronauts basically taped a bag onto their asses.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:18 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this post, desjardins. It answers all the strange questions I had floating around in my mind while I was watching the coverage on the news.
posted by amyms at 9:56 AM on June 14, 2008


I guess that exlains all the "wannabe astronauts" turning up at hospitals to have vacuum cleaners removed from their bodies.
posted by an egg at 10:38 AM on June 14, 2008


I think the wry astronaut was Sarnia Ontario's own Chris Hadfield. I remember seeing an interview with him saying that the "toilet issue" was the most popular question from audiences by far.

I wonder about the efficiency of the current solution. The video says they use airflow to suck the solids and liquids by exposing the dump tank to vacuum. Wouldn't that waste a ton of (very expensive) station atmosphere every time? I would imagine it would make a horrendous noise too. Every astronaut in the place would know that you took a two-flusher, and they'd be mad because you wasted breathing air. Talk about performance pressure!
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:16 PM on June 14, 2008


Popular Ethics: the "They've come a long way" link explains that the receptacle is made of a semi-permeable plastic that passes the air back into the cabin while filtering out microbes.
posted by agentofselection at 12:34 PM on June 14, 2008


Also, I'd be surprised if they just dumped (ahem) the waste into orbit. An aimed trajectory back towards Earth would make sense, but no one just randomly drops anything into space these days. There's too much random stuff up there making a navigation hazard as it is, the last thing we need is flashfrozen turds in the same orbit as the space station.

IIRC, back in the early days of space exploration they did basically piss in a bag and toss it out the airlock. Which eventually resulted in a UFO report from an astronaut, who reported seeing odd golden spheres moving around the ship. It took 'em a while to realize it was his own frozen urine....
posted by sotonohito at 3:02 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't been paying attention. What scientific results have we gotten from the ISS? Compared to, say, Hubble?
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:16 PM on June 14, 2008


I'm so glad that when I searched for 'urine dump at sunset' the first link was back to this post.
posted by acro at 7:57 PM on June 14, 2008


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