Many people ask themselves if there are toilets in outer space. The answer is yes, toilets are available for astronauts in space. Outer space toilets are used in environments of less weight outside the earth. Unlike the usual toilets we use in our homes, these toilets work in the absence of weight. Airflow directs the collection and retention of both liquid and solid waste. Instead of the waste being flushed out like we do in our homes, they are returned to the cabin where they are filtered and cleaned to prevent odor and bacteria from building up.
Initially, older systems released liquid waste into space and the solid part of the waste were compressed for storage purposes so they could be disposed of upon landing on earth. Today, modern systems have come where the wastes are placed in a vacuum which is under pressure. The vacuum is designed in such a way that pathogenic bacteria are kited and the odor is removed.
Features and Designs of Toilets in Outer Space
An outer space toilet has four major parts; waste storage drawers, solid waste collection bag, liquid waste vacuum tube and a vacuum chamber.
Liquid waste vacuum tube is made of plastic or rubber that is attached to a vacuum chamber. A fan is also connected to the liquid waste tube for provision of suction. The tube’s end has receptacles for both males and females that are detachable. Receptacle belonging to the male is funnel-shaped which allows directing of urine into the funnel. Female receptacle is oval-shaped having tiny holes to allow air currents hence preventing too much suction of urine.
The vacuum chamber is cylindrical in shape for attachment of waste collection bags. and fan that provides suction. Pumping of urine is directed and stored in the waste storage drawers. Solid waste is stored in a special bag made from fabric.
The solid waste collection bag is detachable and is able to let gas escape out of the storage bag easily. The fan in the vacuum chamber enables waste to be pulled into the storage bag. The bags containing the wastes are placed in the drawers after finishing disposing of waste. Solid waste can as wet be placed in cylindrical containers where they are dried.
Toilets in outer space look similar to our modern toilets on earth especially the toilet for basements. Despite the similarity on how they look, there are some differences on how astronauts use those toilets and how we use ours on earth. When astronauts use toilets in the outer space, the must fasten themselves with belts. This protects them from floating during defecation.
Machines that are similar to vacuum cleaners are available in outer space toilets for sucking out wastes from the toilet. That is when the waste sucked out is dried in a cylindrical vacuum. Unlike earth toilets that have doors, outer space toilets have curtains to partition toilets. Spaceships and shuttles are noisy due to running machines. Therefore, no astronaut can hear the other when defecating.
Conclusion: Most astronauts use diets that are of low residue to reduce the need for defecation. NASA is developing new outer space toilets for the next generation. They aim at making a more quiet, hygienic, lighter and reliable toilet.