NASA Launches $23 Million Space Toilet That Better Accommodates Female Astronauts

NASA is launching a new toilet to the ISS that is better equipped for female astronauts with a special tilted seat. 

The International Space Station will soon be equipped with a uniquely designed space toilet. The new toilet was packed into a cargo ship that was supposed to be launched late Thursday night from NASA’s flight facility located on Wallops Island, Virginia. Due to technical difficulties, however, the launch was rescheduled to Friday evening. For the next few months, astronauts living in the space station will test out the toilet.

A Special Toilet Built for a Mission

The new toilet weighs almost 100 pounds and measures 28 inches tall. Currently, the space station has two toilets in use.  These models are about double the size and were built by a Russian manufacturer. The new toilet weighs nearly 50% less and is 65% smaller.

The toilet has a number of features that make it perfect for the space station. Many of the improvements were created with women in mind. It features a tilted seat, redesigned funnels for urination, and a new shape. 

The new shape is better fitted for a female’s anatomy. The toilets that are used in the ISS have a microgravity function that helps to suction waste which keeps it from escaping when someone is taking a bathroom break. In addition to the features, the new toilets can hold more waste than previous versions.

Johnson Space Center project manager Melissa McKinley spoke with The Guardian and said, “Cleaning up a mess is a big deal. We don’t want any misses or escapes. Let’s just say everything floats in weightlessness.” 

Why It’s Better 

There are a number of reasons that the new toilet system is expected to work better than the previously built systems. Not only does the new toilet system have a smaller mass than previous systems, but it is also easier to use and allows for increased comfort and performance. 

According to a NASA report that was published in June, “The new toilet system has a lower mass than prior systems, is simpler to use, provides increased crew comfort and performance, and treats urine so it can be safely processed by the spacecraft recycling systems.”

The toilet is expected to be placed in a new stall next to the old toilet that is on the U.S. side of the space station. The toilet that is currently being used there is quite antiquated and was developed in the 1990s.

The new toilet, which is called the Universal Waste Management System toilet, will be kept on the ISS until the end of the space station’s lifetime. A new crew from SpaceX Crew Dragon will be sent to ISS this Halloween after delays. This will be the first commercially built and operated U.S. spacecraft. The team will be one of the first to use the toilet and will report back on the toilet’s functions when they arrive home.

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