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Potty Training - How To Go To The Bathroom In Space

Performing Personal Hygiene Rituals Without Gravity


NASA Space Toilet - How To Use The Bathroom in Space

NASA Space Toilet - NASA Potty Training

There are many things we take for granted here on Earth that take on a whole new aspect when you're orbiting the Earth in microgravity in the space shuttle or International Space Station. One of the most asked questions that NASA receives involves bathroom rituals. Let’s see what a trip to the bathroom in the space shuttle entails.

The Shower:

There is no shower in the space shuttle, so astronauts must make do with sponge baths until they return home. They wash with wet washcloths, utilizing soaps that do not need to be rinsed off. The crew bring plenty of towels to dry themselves with. To provide a little privacy, they extend the curtain of the WCS (Waste Collection System), the toilet or bathroom.

The smart ones take long thorough baths before taking off.

Brushing Teeth:

Dental hygiene presented a unique problem for astronauts. Expectorating (spitting) in a near weightless environment is never a good idea. A dental consultant with NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston developed a toothpaste that can be swallowed. It is now marketed commercially as NASAdent. This has been a great breakthrough for the elderly, hospital patients, and others who have trouble brushing their teeth. It is foamless and ingestible.

Space shuttle astronauts who can not bring themselves to swallow the toothpaste, or who have brought their own favorite brands sometimes spit into a washcloth.

Toilet Use:

Since there is no gravity to either hold a toilet bowl full of water in place or pull human wastes down, designing a toilet for zero-gravity was not an easy task. NASA had to develop a way to use air flow to make the urine or feces go where they wanted.

There is a toilet on each space shuttle which can be used by men or women. Although it is designed to be as much as possible like those on Earth, there are a number of changes. Straps are in place to hold feet against the floor. Pivoting bars swing across the thighs, ensuring the user remains seated. Since the system operates on a vacuum, a tight seal is essential.

Besides the main toilet bowl, there is a hose, which is utilized as a urinal by men and women. It can be used in a standing position or can be attached to the commode by a pivoting mounting bracket for use in a sitting position. A separate receptacle allows for disposal of wipes. All three units use flowing air instead of water to move waste through the system.

The human waste is separated and solid wastes are compressed and stored on-board, and then removed after landing. Waste water is vented to space, although future systems may recycle it. The air is filtered to remove odor and bacteria and then returned to the cabin.

Hopefully, there is sufficient reading material aboard for the task.

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