6 Incredible Toilets in Space

Tom got terrible space-helmet hair.

In space, no one can hear you poop… because sound can’t travel in a vacuum. However, on the International Space Station they can hear you poop, but that’s OK because… well, everybody poops – even astronauts. Yes, unequivocally one of the coolest jobs on the planet (and a great distance above it) presents one of the most troubling conundrums for humanity to find a solution to. How do you whiz in space?

Space toilet 2

I have no idea why I’m smiling.

Luckily, humanity was wise enough to invent scientists to help us unearth the answers to nature’s smelly puzzles. After all, what’s the point of going into space if you have to share the honour with a fleet of floating turds? This, then, is a list of wonderful inventions to stop your cockpit being invaded by little brown men. You’ll never look at a floating chocolate bar in the same light again.

6. JAXA’s wearable toilet

Space Toilet 3

Regardless of how this image portrays it, the toilet is not made out of one enormous diamond.

The real problem with relieving yourself in space is not worrying about whether any waste substance is going to damage valuable instruments, but having to let the other members of the crew know what your doing. Luckily, this is no longer an issue with the incredible wearable toilet.

Space Toilet 4

They’re not too hot on spelling at The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Yes, those geniuses at The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have come up with a handy little device that can sense when its wearer expels – it sucks, washes and dries, all without your fellow adventurer knowing. More importantly, the unit retains all smells and can even muffle any unfortunate farting. Perfect for those long-haul space flights.

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5. Turning water into wine… sort of

Space Toilet 5

The astronauts questioned the need for a photo booth on the ISS.

Remember that scene in Waterworld, where a stricken Kevin Costner uses a machine to filter his urine into water for him and his plant? Of course you don’t – no one went to see that film! But imagine how useful that device would be on a long car journey. No more time-consuming toilet breaks or forking out a small fortune for pricy bottled water. Surely such a machine cannot exist.

Space Toilet 6

There’s a little bit of you in every mouthful.

Well, friends, as sure as Costner had gills, this machine is in fact a reality and is currently being used on space missions. Brilliantly, the water produced by the costly machine (a snip at $250,000,000) is actually purer that regular American tap water.

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4. Desperate times…

Space toilet 7

They come in several shades of beige… depending on how long you’ve been wearing them.

Unfortunately, being an astronaut is not all fun and games. While floating around space squeezing beef paste into your fellow shipmate’s face may seem like fun, getting a space shuttle off the ground and then back down safely is anything but fun and games. In fact, it’s self-defecatingly scary; lucky they’re all wearing adult diapers, then.

Space Toilet 8

Poo flap not included.

Yes, there are times during spaceflight when it is impossible to do anything other than crap your pants, and for that, nothing more than an enormous nappy will do. This being space, they do have a technical term – the Maximum Absorption Garment, or MAG for short. These nappies came to the forefront of media attention when ex-astronaut Lisa Nowak was found in possession of a couple of MAGs on her way to confront a love rival with a flick knife and a BB gun. She said she didn’t want to stop mid-stalk. The offending nappy was later sold on EBay, of course.

3. The lukewarm war

Space Toilet 9

Toilet or torture device? You decide.

The International Space Station – not really a fair name for a miracle of modern science. It’s more of an American–Russian and occasionally Chinese Space Station. Things do have a habit of becoming rather heated up their as well, especially with regards to the maintenance and usage policy of their toilet.

Space Toilet 10

Wait Mike! That’s not a Malteser.

The Americans and Russians have been smart enough to bring their own technology along for the ride, which is great until something breaks, and they all have to share. Unfortunately, fixing a space loo is not particularly simple, and it has been known for each country to bill each other for toilet usage. Still, all’s fair in love and war and pooping.

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2. I put it where?

Space Toilet 11

The Kazakhstan Mousetrap was rudimentary.

God bless those crazy, crazy Russians. When the American’s wouldn’t blink an eyelid at spending a quarter of a billion dollars on a contraption that turns wee into water, they simply rig a few tubes, pans and barrels together and call it science. You’d never see a Japanese man on one of those.

Space Toilet 12

Nicolai could only go with a little help from his friends.

This, we’re reliably informed, is the toilet that went up with the Soyuz rocket circa 1967. Thankfully, technology has moved on since the inception of this thing, but even so, it shows that removing waste has been a puzzle for astrophysicists since the dawn of space flight.

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1. 10 years at space camp for this?

Space Toilet 13

Bag it and tag it.

When things get bad, which in space is almost an inevitability, astronauts are expected to do the unthinkable and take a crap in a sack then eject it from the craft. Unfortunately, this is not as simple as all that. As Sean Bean once said, “One does not simply poo out of a spaceship”. And he was right.

Space Toilet 14

Get used to squatting chaps.

The early Apollo missions saw astronauts tape said bag to their rears, then mush up their faeces with a blue germicide to prevent any form of contamination. It’s best to have the experience explained by one of the Apollo 7 astronauts who described it as follows: “Get naked; allow an hour; have plenty of tissues ready.”

Quite.

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So, there we have it in all its gory detail. Hopefully, you are much better equipped to relieve yourself in space, should the moment arise. I’m certain you will receive training on how to do it at space camp, but you can never be too prepared.

Space Toilet 15

You packed the toilet paper, right?

Oddly, the Discovery space program almost came to an embarrassing and tragic end thanks to a urine crystal that had attached itself to the exterior of the space shuttle. Worryingly, it was thought the heat reflective plates could have been ripped off the craft upon re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere, so the waste management system was shut down to prevent the issue from getting any worse. You can imagine how well this went down with the crew, who still had six days left on their mission. Never mind.

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