The astronauts are obviously very brave, intelligent and accomplished people, but they are all the same people, not supermen. Therefore, even while in space, they, like any other person is necessary from time to time to go “small” and “large”. Space Agency NASA has begun to conduct training of the first astronauts in the early 60-ies. And interestingly, at that time, the Agency is not worried about how the astronauts will be voiding their bladders and bowels, while in conditions of weightlessness. The main task consisted in sending a man into space and, if possible, return it back to Earth. Everything else faded into the background.
When in 1961, Alan B. Shepard, first American, made a suborbital space flight, was forced to empty your bladder right in the suit on the launch pad, NASA has finally realized that the lack of planning can present a very big problem.
The Agency has had to more carefully consider how the astronauts will be going to the toilet in space, but the NASA decision did not come easy. After completion of the mission “Apollo” in 1975, the engineers of the Agency admitted that defecation and urination “are very annoying and problematic aspects that accompany every space trip”.
In subsequent years, experts from NASA have offered many solutions to the question: from the catheters and diapers, and ending with a hanging toilet and a full washroom systems worth $ 19 million, though not developed in NASA. Now “go pee” in space was much more comfortable, but there was a time when this process looked more like a torture, not a relief.
The retired astronaut Peggy Whitson, the total spent in space for 665 days and 22 hours, which is an absolute record for the duration of work in the space among women, and among all the astronauts NASA recently admitted that the trip to the toilet in space was the least enjoyable part of the job in microgravity.
As the first NASA astronaut went right under him
When on 5 may 1961 Alan B. Shepard, the first ever US man went to space, NASA plans did not include the possibility that this man might want the toilet at the crucial moment. The planned mission duration was only about 15 minutes. However, the engineers of the Agency did not take into account how much actual time Shepard can spend inside of a spacecraft waiting for launch.
Astronaut Alan Shepard next to the capsule of the spaceship “mercury” after landing
For some time all went well, but then the shepherd felt that his bladder was very uncomfortable full. Team mission to send the first American into space insisted that the astronaut remained in his place, so Shepard made it clear to MCC that he was going to go potty right under him. And went.
“Thanks to the cotton underwear that was worn by all astronauts, all that came out of me, quickly it absorbed. I was completely dry by the time the actual launch,” — said later, Shepard.
After this incident, NASA began to think about the equipment the astronauts the means to go to the toilet at any time a space mission. The first urine bottles, looked like a huge collapsing condoms and went in three different sizes. Needless to say that the device was intended for use by men? No women astronauts at that time were not conducted.
Made of latex, the bag was connected to a plastic tube, a valve on the suit with a special clip and a dedicated bag-moonbounces. The system was far not perfect and sometimes leak. However, these catheters were used, for example, John Glenn in the first for the U.S. orbital space flight mission “mercury-Atlas-6”. The flight duration was 4 hours and 55 minutes.
During the “Gemini”, the second program of space flights in the 60’s, NASA began to think about how to allow the astronauts to go “big”. It should be noted that the first device intended for this, it looked like an ordinary bags, taped to the fifth point of the astronauts.
“After defecation a member of the crew had to seal the bag, then mash it to inside antibacterial liquid mixed with its contents and provided the necessary level of antibacterial security,” described the work of the system of collection of solid waste in NASA.
“Because the task was very unpleasant and demanded that the astronauts enough time to complete, often people try to only eat foods quickly digested and going to the toilet just before the flight”.
The device that was used in the Apollo program, were not much better, because it was still used to the bag system. In the end, going to the toilet in space was always a real adventure. For this reason NASA even had a report about how many times one or the other astronaut went to the toilet in the next mission “Apollo”.
The story floating something
In 1969 during the mission “Apollo 10” the incident occurred a long time hiding in the archives of history, away from the eyes of an ordinary citizen. During the flight around the moon three astronauts complained about the disgusting flying object inside the spacecraft. They had the following dialogue:
“Give me a napkin, quick. Here in the air floating turd,” — said commander Tom Stafford. – “Maybe it’s John Yang?”. “It’s not mine,” answers command module pilot John young. “I don’t think it’s my,” said the lunar module pilot Eugene Cernan. “Mine were a little more sticky than this, — has responded Stafford. – Snap out of it”. Some time later, Cernan again picks up this theme: “Here’s another goddamn turd. What’s wrong with you guys?”.
Later the astronauts of missions “Apollo” NASA has developed a system of “integrated system for the collection of faeces”, as to use the packages in the open space was of course impossible. This system looked and was described as “a pair of shorts with multiple layers of absorbent material”. In practice, NASA created the space diapers, which according to the Agency “was able to absorb any excrement.”
The equipment of the ships of the first toilets has not solved all the problems
So came the era of the space shuttles, along with space came the women and finally the toilets! In order for women-the astronauts could celebrate small need during the launch and spacewalks, NASA has developed a system of Disposable Absorption Containment Trunk, representing the same shorts with multiple absorbent layers.
Such a diaper could absorb up to 3.75 cups of urine
Space Shuttle began to be equipped with these toilets Waste Collection System cost $ 50,000 each. However, to use in microgravity them was difficult. The diameter of the hole of the toilet was only 10 inches, which was approximately quarter of the hole diameter of the earth analogue. In order to use such a toilet, the astronauts for several months I trained on the Ground. In some cases under the seat was used mounted camera that helps to better “aim”.
Simulator space Shuttle toilet
“Accuracy in such cases is very important,” says Scott Weinstein, NASA experts, who trained future astronauts to properly use the toilet on the space Shuttle.
Of course, no toilet paper here wasn’t provided. She could create an additional source of contamination.
Astronaut Mike Massimino once said that in order to conveniently fit on a space toilet, he used the handrails. In the end, it looked as if the astronaut clung to the handle of the chopper (American motorcycle with extended frame). Today’s astronauts and cosmonauts working aboard the International space station, have much more amenities. In the toilets instead of water, use the vacuum. Solid waste is collected in special plastic mesh bags that some time stored in an aluminium 20 litre containers. Filled containers shift in the cargo transport ship “Progress” for further utilization. After absorption of the liquid waste is collected using a special hose with a nozzle, which can be used by both men and women, and then passed to the regeneration system, restoring them to a condition of potable water used in the technical circuit.
Italian European space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shows a bag for collecting solid waste
Former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has been to space more than any other NASA astronaut, in an interview with Business Insider said that is weightless, soaring – great, but to go to the toilet – a big hassle.
“If the toilet is filled or clogged, it is necessary to wear rubber gloves and clean it,” said Whitson.
Problems on the ISS
Modern toilets aboard the ISS is very effectively cope with collection and disposal of liquid waste: approximately 80-85 percent of this waste is processed to a state of clean drinking water, says a former astronaut. However, in the opinion of a female astronaut, NASA could figure out how to do space toilets more convenient and effective.
“We want a completely closed system cyclic type. To brand all liquid waste is processed into drinking water,” — said the astronaut.
When EVAs are modern astronauts use the most absorbent underwear (Maximum Absorption Garment), which is tight-fitting underpants, soaking in everything that comes out of a person. Earlier this lingerie for NASA astronauts was produced by the company Absorbancies, but it no longer exists, but the Agency still have the pre-purchased inventory products.
The history of the modern toilet on the ISS is also not without sin. In may 2008, the most important part of the station is out of order. Fortunately, the efficiency of the device was kept in part – allow the system to collect solid waste. Later to the ISS docked Soyuz, which had a toilet (but limited capacity). Spravleniya small needs of astronauts again had to resort to the already forgotten packages.
At that time, the media wrote that the broken toilet was a disaster, since the station had only one such system. After six months on the ISS brought bought from Russia for $ 19 million full bathroom, setting it in the American module “Tranquility”. A new toilet was delivered by space Shuttle “endeavour” mission STS-126. The Russian system has independent channels for the collection of solid and liquid waste.
New technologies expand the possibilities
Last year, NASA held a competition to develop a portable system that will allow astronauts to go to the toilet with a long presence in space suits, for example, when a long-duration flight to Mars. The device below in the pictures got the first prize in the amount of $ 15,000.
The system involves the presence of a small connecting hole near the crotch of the suit to which it will be possible to connect tubes and bags for collecting liquid and solid waste. According to the description, the system even allows you to change the astronaut underwear without having to remove the suit.
Device developer Thatcher Cardon with his wife and children days and nights worked to create a working prototype.
“The design of the device I designed to the last detail. He lay, thought and imagined how it will look when using different approaches,” said Cardone in an interview with Business Insider.
“I immediately decided I needed to figure out a way waste out of the suit”.
NASA say they are not yet ready to fully use the Cardon invented a portable waste disposal system in their current suits, however, in the future the Agency may adopt “some features” of the device in the design of future spacesuits.
Cardona thinks that the same design of valves on the spacesuits can be very useful in the future. For example, when the need for emergency medical operations.
“These valves will help to simplify and faster to prepare, for example, for surgery on the abdominal cavity. If the astronaut gets into a situation where he gets hurt, for example, in mining on asteroids, such valves can be very useful”.
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