Former NASA Astronaut Explains How to Poop in Space (Image Credit: futurism-com)
“It requires a lot of training.”
If you ever find yourself aboard a spaceship exploring the profound mysteries of the universe and you have the sudden urge to poop — former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino has some insights for you.
“It requires a lot of training,” Massimino told “The Daily Show” guest host Kal Penn during a recent segment. “You get rendezvous training and robotics training in space, and there would be potty training.”
Because toilets on board NASA spacecraft are unlike Earth-bound commodes, he explained, you will need practice. These space thrones don’t use water but instead use negative air presure to suck away waste like a vacuum.
Astronauts in training would have to practice relieving themselves on a training toilet, and sit on another toilet to “practice alignment,” Massimino said. For this second toilet, an instructor would be peering up at your buttocks via camera to make sure you have the proper sitting position for space shitting.
“Because the key for pooping in space is hitting a very small target” he said. “It’s a little opening. And you open this little window to it, and you look down. It’s very small so you’ve got to be properly aligned.”
Doing a number one or two in zero gravity seems like a situation ripe for comedy, but NASA takes pooping in space very seriously. After all, it’s an issue of both hygiene and comfort.
You certainly don’t want a repeat of what went down in 1969 during the space agency’s Apollo 10 mission when a piece of errant poop ended up floating in midair inside the spacecraft.
Despite major upgrades being made to space commodes, doing business in space can still be messy. In 2021, commercial outfit SpaceX reported that its space toilet was leaking piss inside of its Crew Dragon capsule. Yucky.
NASA is taking waste management so seriously that the agency is redesigning its space commodes in time for the Artemis Moon Missions. For one, it needs to be able to operate effectively in outer space and the lower gravity of the moon.
Back in 2020, the agency held a design competition for a newly improved space toilet. The winning team designed a commode that accommodates both men and women posteriors and has a waste system similar to a Diaper Genie.
It’s not clear if NASA will indeed deploy this winning design, but we will be watching for any news of waste management fiascos when the next Artemis mission launches in 2024.
More on space toilets: Space Tourists Learn Harsh Reality of Space Station Bathroom
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