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Q: BATHROOMS IN SPACE ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Category: Science > Technology
Asked by: yesmam-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 18 May 2003 11:30 PDT
Expires: 17 Jun 2003 11:30 PDT
Question ID: 205480
How do astronauts urinate and deficate in outer space? Is it a bigger
problem for males or females?
Answered By: bobbie7-ga on 18 May 2003 13:16 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Yesmam,

Thank you for your question.


From the Official NASA pages: 

This is the bathroom of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

“In the center of the picture, the toilet bowl and the urine funnel --
gray tube -- are visible. The astronauts have to position themselves
on the toilet seat, using leg-restraints and thigh-bars. The toilet
basically works like a vacuum cleaner with fans that suck air and
waste into the commode. Each astronaut has a personal urinal funnel,
which has to be attached to the hose's adapter. Fans suck air and
urine through the funnel and hose into the wastewater tank.”

How do astronauts in space go to the bathroom and take care of their
personal hygiene?

“Astronauts brush their teeth just like they do on Earth. There is no
shower on the Shuttle, so astronauts must make do with sponge baths
until they return home. Each Space Shuttle has a toilet that can be
used by both men and women. Designed to be as much as possible like
those on Earth, the units use flowing air instead of water to move
waste through the system. Solid wastes are compressed and stored
onboard, and then removed after landing. Wastewater 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.”

The Waste Collection System


An astronaut told the Washington Post:

“Astronauts urinate into vacuum-powered bags, and bowel movements
require the use of a special toilet, four inches in diameter.
Astronauts train in an earth-bound NASA-built model, practicing the
use of retaining bars to prevent themselves from floating away. The
model toilet has a camera in it, so astronauts can see how they're
doing. (That's right; part of training to become an astronaut involves
watching your own ass on television.) Once in space, however, there is
a plus side: "A rite of space flight is to urinate upside down," an
astronaut told the Washington Post.”

Eliminating waste while in a spacesuit:

Each spacewalking astronaut wears a large, absorbent diaper called a
Maximum Absorption Garment (MAG) to collect urine and feces while in
the spacesuit. The astronaut disposes the MAG when the spacewalk is
over and he/she gets dressed in regular work clothes.
How Stuff Works


It doesn’t appear to be a bigger problem for women. Astronaut Shannon
Lucid has faced 188 days in space. She answered the following question
from schoolchildren at the Museum of Texas Tech:

How do you go to the bathroom in space? 

“Astronauts urinate into foam attached to a tube, she explained. The
urine is collected and distilled into pure water, which is further
broken down into gases. Therefore, the urine provides the oxygen
astronauts need to breathe.”

Avalanche-Journal by MATTHEW HENRY


From ThinkQuest:

This site chronicles the advancements in the Waste Collection Systems
present in American space vehicles.  Use the links on the left side of
the webpage to navigate through the site.  Each "lesson" contains
information about the solid and liquid waste collection systems used
in the spacecraft.

ThinkQuest Library

“The urinal is a funnel, which can be accommodated for both male and
female, that attaches to a hose. The hose transports the urine to the
waste water tank.”


Questions and answers about going to the bathroom in space:


Amazon carries a book that may interest you:

How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?
by William R. Pogue, John Glenn (Introduction), Sidney Harris

“Have you ever wondered what it's like for an astronaut in outer
space? From the exciting moments to the day-to-day details, from the
serious to the humorous, here you'll find the most up-to-date answers
to every question you've ever had about living in space!”

Amazon Website


Search Criteria:

How do you go to the bathroom in space?
Astronauts urinate

I hope this helps. If anything is unclear please request clarification
and I'll be glad to offer further assistance before you rate my answer
and close the question.

Best Regards,
yesmam-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
It is often thought tht great minds think alike, but who knows!
Can it be sumised that STRANGE minds often think alike?
Between gaining knowledge that BIRDS sometimes like to SING for the
HELL of it and there's a process to POOP management in SPACE, it makes
me feel confident to attend the BEST cocktail parties in town.
TALK about SMALL TALK! This is microscopic.

From: pocoloco-ga on 18 May 2003 13:52 PDT
Dear yesman-ga,

Bobbie7-ga has given you a very thorough answer.

I happened to see that's Guide to Space/Astronomy, Nick
Greene, wrote an article on a closely related topic just last week. 
Nick's article is a fun addition to the ones above, as it also answers
questions like "How do astronauts brush their teeth?"


"Things we take for granted on earth take on a whole new aspect when
you're orbiting the earth in microgravity.  One frequently asked
question that NASA receives involves bathroom rituals.  See what a
trip to the bathroom in the space shuttle entails."
Search Strategy:
From: pinkfreud-ga on 18 May 2003 17:42 PDT
Great answer, Bobbie!

Speaking of zero-gee johns, here is some interesting reading. This is
the text of the instructions for the zero-gravity toilet from Stanley
Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey"--

Gosh, by the time a person finishes reading those instructions, it's
gonna be too late to use the facilities, since nature's urge will have
taken over. :-D

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