You never think about the everyday things that astronauts have to do on the International Space Station (ISS) — including basic, human functions like, say, going to the bathroom.
According to Space.com, NASA is hoping to improve bathroom technology on future missions by sending a brand new, $23 million toilet system to the ISS. Going to the bathroom has been a tricky situation in space for a long time, to the point that NASA launched a crowdsourcing campaign to look for new toilet designs back in June.
Beyond the price, the new toilet system, known as the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), is made from titanium and is also 65 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than the current toilets on the ISS, Space.com reported, which is very important since inside space is very limited on board. The new system is considered an improvement on the current one on the station.
“The toilet was designed for exploration and it builds on previous spaceflight toilet design,” said NASA Advanced Exploration Systems Logistics Reduction project manager Melissa McKinley in a statement. “The big key to the exploration piece of the design is looking to optimize mass volume and power usage, which are all very important components of a spacecraft design.”
This new design will be particularly considered for future missions to Mars or the moon, Space.com reported. Once the toilet reaches the ISS, astronauts will test how the toilet works in the unique environment on the station. It will be installed alongside the current waste system in Node 3. Astronauts get all kinds of products sent to them for testing in space, including a space-friendly oven and cookie dough.
In addition, the toilet includes a urine funnel and seat that is designed with female crew members in mind, Space.com reported. It’s especially critical for future missions, considering that NASA intends to put the first woman on the moon by 2024.
The toilet will be sent to the station via the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo capsule on Sept. 29, as part of a resupply mission, according to Space.com.
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