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How Do Astronauts Pee In Space?

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An episode from LesTout

12/26/2009 | Download File (1.07 MB)

The task s of daily living that most of us take for granted are much more challenging to accomplish in outer space, especially those personal things involving an astronaut's privates. This question, how to capture human waste at zero Gs, is so important in fact, that in 2007 NASA spent 19 million to address it, purchasing a state-of-the-art toilet system for the international space station; quite a bit more cash than even the most extravagant powder room on earth would cost. {advcenter} Why Do Astronauts Need Special Toilets? With zero-gravity conditions in space, the toilet water, waste and user could not stay in place, but instead would float around weightless (Ewwwww!) When astronauts use the toilet, they must first strap in, just to remain sitting while doing their business. How Are Space Toilets Different from Earth Toilets? Without gravity, space toilets need to rely on suction (movement of air instead of water) to draw the waste into a holding container. The toilet bowl is for poop, and there must be a compete seal in order for the waste to move into the receptacle (Astronauts must get some serious toilet-seat rings on their fannies!) There is also cup with a seal and hose attached that both male and female astronauts can use as a urinal. What if Astronauts Need to Go During a Spacewalk?!? During the most recent mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis, Hubble Service Mission 4, astronauts had to complete five spacewalks in order to make the needed repairs and upgrades to Hubble. Most of those specewalks were seven hours or more, so you may wonder, "What if an astronaut has to poop or pee while on the job? The answer to this one is pretty low-tech. They wear diapers. NASA, of course, doesn't call them diapers. That wouldn't be technical enough. Instead, an astronaut's nappy is called a MAG (maximum absorption garment). Want to learn more about the special challenges to living in space? The following links prove more detail: NASA, Living in Space Washington Post, "Ever Wonder How Astronauts Pee in Space?" {advbottom}Click here to play

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