What a Space Toilet Does

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What a Space Toilet Does

Here in Canada we all benefit from modern indoor plumbing. However, for astronauts, the challenge of disposing of human waste is not yet so elegant.

The flushing toilets that we are used to here on Earth would obviously create more disaster than relief in a weightless environment like the International Station. Air flow assisted toilets are used instead.

Both liquid and solid waste is collected using vacuum-like suction devices. A long tube with a custom fitting is used to handle liquid wastes, while a seat equipped with a suction device and individual plastic bags is in place to collect and store solids. As astronauts need to access both of these devices without the help of gravity, there are restraining devices like belts and footholds available for assistance.

As there are currently no space plumbers on call to handle toilet malfunctions on the International Space Station, crew members have had to either wait for replacements to come via shuttle or attempt repairs themselves in the past.