International Space Station gets a new toilet, costs $23 million
A new space toilet has been delivered at the International Space Station (ISS). The loo comes as a major upgrade over the existing one - which will continue to stay at its place - and may eventually be used for long-term space missions to the Moon. It has been developed at a cost of $23 million. Here's more about it.
On Monday morning, a Northrup Grumman spacecraft named after Kalpana Chawla, the Indian-origin astronaut who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, reached the International Space Station. The craft delivered several payloads to the orbiting lab, including research on cancer treatments, a crop of radishes to cultivate, a VR camera, and the new multi-million-dollar space toilet.
Weighing about 45kg, the new space station toilet stands at about 28 inches and packs a new shape to better accommodate women. According to NASA, it is 65% smaller and half as light as the toilets currently in use on the US side of the ISS. Plus, it also carries a tilted seat for enhanced crew comfort and redesigned funnels for ease of use.
Along with the design change, the new toilet also features an improved waste management system that captures more human waste than the current toilet. "Cleaning up a mess is a big deal. We don't want any misses or escapes," Johnson Space Center project manager Melissa McKinley told The Guardian. "Let's just say everything floats in weightlessness."
In the coming months, astronauts aboard ISS will test the new space toilet and see how it functions in comparison to the existing one. The toilet currently on the US side of the lab was installed all the way back in 1990, so the upgrade was necessary. NASA expects the toilet will remain on the station until the end of the lab's lifetime.
If proven effective, the new small and light toilet might also be fitted into the Orion capsule, which will be taking the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.