How do astronauts go to the bathroom in space?
The thought of how astronauts go to the bathroom in space is quite intriguing. Using the bathroom is something you have to do whether you are in Earth or in space. Letís look at how exactly this works in space.
The toilet that has been developed today is a result of years of research. Initially, astronauts used plastic bags and adult diapers. Now, there is a unisex toilet in each spacecraft to be used by both men and women. It is designed differently than the toilets normally seen on earth but looks like a better, modern version of the common toilet. It comprises of two parts, one for solid wastes and one for liquid wastes. The people have the option of using the toilet standing up or sitting down. Since there is no gravity, there are seat belts, foot and thigh straps for sitting down, and toe holds.
The solid wastes are dried out by removing all moisture. They are stored in a container that is removed once the spacecraft has landed. Waste liquids are sent out in space. The air is filtered to remove any odor and bacteria. A new toilet has been launched recently and it is much better in terms of hygiene, storage capacity, dependability, and overall cost efficiency.
This new model has unlimited storage capacity as compared to the old toilet which had a fourteen day capacity limit for storing waste. It also has a cylinder system that provides a plastic bag before each use. The bag is sealed after each use and sent to the bottom of the cylinder. A new bag is placed for the next person and a new cylinder is placed when the existing cylinder is full. This new system is more hygienic than the previous one which uses on air flow to move the waste to a container. The waste could not be separated nor could the container be emptied. Once it gets full, there were no other options.
The new toilet is odor free with a bigger opening for placing plastic bags. The collection of liquid waste is also better with a fan type system forcing the waste to a holding tank. It is vented into space at regular intervals where it is vaporized. The older model had problems with the fans system. The newer model is cost effective as it can be cleaned without it ebbing removed from the spacecraft while the older model had to be removed and sent to Texas for servicing, making it more expensive.
At the international space station, the liquid wastes are collected and recycled with the help of a specially designed plant while the solid wastes are kept in a plastic bag, which goes into a separate cylinder to be disposed of later. Answering the call of nature becomes a greater challenge when astronauts are walking in space. Most astronauts use adult diapers for this purpose. Once they reach the space station, they dispose the diapers in storage designed specifically for this purpose.
Brushing teeth in space is similar to brushing teeth on earth while showers and baths in space are not possible. Astronauts make do with sponge baths and wet wipes. They use soaps and shampoos that can be wiped off. There are special showers that have been designed and are available on spacecrafts. The shower is completely sealed so water does not float around and a vacuum nozzle sucks out all the water once they are done.
NASA has designed a training room in its Texas facility just to get the astronauts better acquainted and accustomed to using the toilet in space. There is a model that helps train astronauts on getting the right position and another model, which is a proper functional model that flushes. There are cameras under the rim that are attached to a monitor ahead to help the astronauts achieve perfect position.
Here are links to more information about how astronauts go to the bathroom in space.
How Do Astronauts Go to Bathroom in Space?
Bathroom in Space
Living in Space
Space Bathroom Image
Zero Gravity Toilet
DSPS in Kids
Taking Baths & Using Restrooms in Space
Anatomy of Astronaut Diaper
Space Potty Training Secrets
Bed and Bath Products