History of space toilets: New ‘space toilet’ on SpaceX Dragon spacecraft

BEIJING, June 2 (Xinhua) — According tomedia reports, SpaceX has set up a “toilet” on its manned Dragon spacecraft and can automatically dock the International Space Station without manual operation. The company’s new garbage removal system, the “toilet” in the context of space, was launched with the manned Dragon Demo-2, or DM-2, to the International Space Station.

History of space toilets: New 'space toilet' on SpaceX Dragon spacecraft

Bathroom model on space shuttle, taken at Johnson Space Center in Texas

NASA veteran astronaut Robert L. Benken. Behnken and Doug Hurley will perform the historic mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, respectively, as commanders and operators. However, they won’t arrive at the International Space Station until the next day, so it’s necessary to set up a toilet on board the spacecraft.

So what’s so special about SpaceX’s space toilets? We don’t know the details yet, but once the astronauts return to Earth, we should know more about this mysterious space toilet. “We’ll let you know what the outcome is,” Doug Hurley said at a news conference. “

However, this toilet may not be of much use at all. Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut and current adviser to SpaceX, said he was uncomfortable with space toilet technology, which astronauts often “stuck.” “I can tell you that from personal experience and the data collected by NASA, it’s a bit like a camping trip, and in the first 24 hours, in terms of the digestive system, your body functions a little bit,” Leishman said. “

So while waiting for Doug Hurley and Robert Benken to return and report on the toilet (and whether they’ve used it), let’s look back at some of the garbage removal systems used in previous spaceships and early space programs, which are actually very interesting.

History of the space toilet

History of space toilets: New 'space toilet' on SpaceX Dragon spacecraft

“Space toilet” on the International Space Station

More than 50 years ago, NASA’s Apollo program took human space flight to a new level, carried out several ground-breaking flights and successfully manned a man to the moon. However, despite the history of the Apollo program, the Apollo astronauts had no toilet available.

At the time, astronauts put urine into a “drowning tube” (which, because NASA only employed male astronauts at the time, was designed for male use) and poured it into a bag. The rest of the “work” is done in the bag, where the astronauts must knead and roll it up and bring it back to Earth for testing.

Later in NASA’s space shuttle program, astronauts finally had toilets. The shuttle’s toilets are known as the Waste Collection System ( WCS). The system uses rotating fan leaves to disperse solid waste in containers, which are then exposed to vacuum to dry them out.

Liquid waste, on the other hand, is released into space. However, during the STS-3 test flight of the space shuttle Columbia, the WCS system malfunctioned and astronauts Jack Lousma and Gordon Fullerton had to put their excrement into a backup system called the Faeces Containment Device.

Thankfully, space toilets have been improving. On the International Space Station, astronauts have two toilets available, in Russia’s Zvezda service module and the U.S. Serenity node module. Like the space shuttle’s WCS system, the current toilets on the International Space Station use a fan-leaf system to disperse and suck up waste. The difference is that liquid and solid waste in toilets are now collected separately and stored in bags in aluminum containers.

NASA is working to improve the waste removal system for its Orion spacecraft. The new space toilet is called the Universal Waste Management System, or UWMS. According to NASA’s website, UWMS is designed as “a compact toilet system that can be used in multiple manned aircraft and residences in the future.” NASA officials say the next generation of space toilets is not only better than previous ones, but also makes it more comfortable for astronauts to use them.