NASA is all set to launch a $23 million space toilet this week. This ISS-bound toilet will be tested by astronauts so that it can go on future missions to Mars or the moon.
This $23 M space toilet is 40% lighter and 65% more compact than the current one being used in the International Space Station. Known as the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), this can also support larger crews than the existing one. This space toilet will be launched on a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo capsule on 29 September. This is a routine resupply mission to the ISS.
Space Toilet aboard the ISS
The ISS astronauts have to test and verify how this $23 M space toilet works in the microgravity environment of the ISS. this toilet is supposed to be installed near the existing one in the 3rd Node of the space station. This was announced by Melissa McKinley on 24th September during a press conference. McKinley is the project manager for the NASA Advanced Exploration Systems Logistics Reduction
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Astronauts of expedition 63, Ivan Vagner and Chris Cassidy are preparing for the delivery of the space toilet. NASA’s statement mentions that the Canadarm2 robotic arm will be used to capture the Cygnus spacecraft. McKinley said, “The big key to the exploration piece of the design is looking to optimize mass volume and power usage, which are all very important components of a spacecraft design.”
This space toilet has a seat and urine funnel. The advanced design is more accommodating of female crew members. There is also a 3D-printed titanium dual fan separator. Created by Collins Aerospace, this separator creates a powerful airflow, which pulls the waste inside the toilet. This design is an improvement upon the current pretreat system that collects and treats the urine before it is recycled.
This UWMS space toilet is 28 inches tall. The starting system is also automated unlike the on-off switches on the existing models. This new toilet will be tested for the coming 3 years in the ISS.
All images: NASA