Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Continually Cranky Commode Concerns Crew

Space station struggles with balky toilet

"This is no laughing matter. The outpost's long-term hygiene and routine comfort are now threatened, unless critical spare parts can be identified, found and loaded aboard the space shuttle Discovery as it sits on the launch pad in Florida.
Long a subject of bathroom humor, these high-tech commodes must use fan-driven air flow instead of gravity to transport human waste away from a crew member’s body and into a sanitary receptacle. Early spaceflights didn’t even have this method, but relied on bags with sticky openings — and an emergency supply of such bags is indeed aboard the space station

This has been a problem since Alan Shepard simply wet his pants when he had to go. However there is a serendipitous moment during waste removal in orbit:

"The liquid in the waste water tank is dumped overboard from time to time. And out in space, this can be a splendid sight indeed. One of the astronauts has said "there is nothing as beautiful as a urine dump at sunset".


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