NASA Unveils $23 Million Toilet That Is Being Sent To The International Space Station

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NASA Unveils $23 Million Toilet That Is Being Sent To The International Space Station

NASA is to test out a brand new toilet, that has cost them $23 million, on the International Space Station (ISS). The multi-million pound toilet is based on a 'vacuum system' that literally sucks waste straight out of the person using it.

It is hoped that the toilet, known as the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), will be launched into space aboard a rocket launch to the ISS on Friday, a previous launch date was beset with technical difficulties.

Waste management is a seriously difficult issue for space travel due to the low-gravity environment. This particular system, with all the technology it is equipped with, weighs less than traditional models, but still comes in at around 45kg (100lbs).

Space toilets work by using air-flow to pull human waste, number 1 and number 2, away from the individual using it. Much like a vacuum cleaner sucks dirt from the ground and into a receptacle, the new space toilet works in much the same way.

Perhaps a little disturbingly, the toilet can then recycle the waste-water and turn it into clean safe drinking water. While solid waste is currently not recycled NASA does say it is looking into that as a possibility. Maybe this would however take a bit of the shine off becoming an astronaut.

NASA said in a statement about the toilet:

"The UWMS seat may look uncomfortably small and pointy, but in microgravity it's ideal. It provides ideal body contact to make sure everything goes where it should."

Melissa McKinley, a Nasa project manager, told the BBC:

"[A] big part of our project was optimising the use of the toilet for the female crew. Nasa spent a lot of time working with the crew members and doing evaluations to improve the use of the commode seat and the urine funnel to make it more accommodating to use by female crew members. Cleaning up a mess is a big deal. We don't want any misses or escapes."

It is hoped that the toilet will work as expected on the International Space Station and that it will be adopted in more space operations going forward.

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Thinking Humanity: NASA Unveils $23 Million Toilet That Is Being Sent To The International Space Station
NASA Unveils $23 Million Toilet That Is Being Sent To The International Space Station
NASA is to test out a brand new toilet, that has cost them $23 million, on the International Space Station (ISS).
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