It’s probably the single most frequently asked question at NASA and of all astronauts: HOW DO YOU GO TO THE BATHROOM IN SPACE?
Well, lucky for us, National Geographic has been able to go “behind the scenes” for us to get this video of exactly what the astronauts do to train how to use the anti-gravity space toilet.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of tubing and suction going on, in order to ensure that the seal between Man and Machine has minimal leaks.
“Leak” is not a word you want to hear on the Space Shuttle. No, sir.
Most amusing is the printed instructions. The basics are all here:
- Urine collection: “Urinate”
- Urine/feces collection: “Urinate/defecate”
…along with the usual “clean and stow urinal funnel” and “ensure proper seal, restrain body” directions that everyone was taught how to do when they were 2-years-old.
Here’s a snippet of what the instructions say for how to unclog a Space Shuttle toilet:
- Allow 5 min for commode contents to soften, then reattempt compaction. If no joy, attempt compaction once more after 5 min. If still no joy, inspect vanes for attached debris. If debris present, remove/redistribute using scraper tool (wear gloves). Re-attempt compaction. If still no joy, MCC.
Let’s focus on the repeated phrase here: “If no joy”. Apparently, the most joyous thing one can do in space is have a clog-free bowel movement. What do the astronauts say after someone exits the water closet – “Hey Steve, have any joy today?”
The how-to guide for the space potty is also very direct and explicit. Here’s item number 2 (no pun intended):
- Sit down on seat and spread buttocks
Apparently, not all rocket scientists are familiar with how to properly use a restroom. If only we had signs like this in all our public restrooms.
Want to know more? Watch the demonstration video here:
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