Heavy weightlessness: a space toilet from the first flight to the ISS

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

More than half-century history of space flight saves enough interesting stories about a variety of moments in the lives of the astronauts. Indeed, any hardship here on Earth is not significant in comparison to the trials endured by the first astronauts. Today we tell about the history of the space toilet.

The flight of Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom

The history of the toilet for astronauts begins on may 5, 1961. NASA is preparing to launch a man into space – the rocket on the launch pad, the eyes of the viewers glued to the TV screens inside the capsule Freedom 7 astronaut Alan Shepard. At that time, as everyone is interested in what Shepard is thinking at this historical moment, he Alan can’t think of anything other than an irresistible desire to empty the bladder.

The complexity of the situation, which is the American astronaut that the flight was for 15 minutes, but because of the opportunity to go to the toilet was not provided. However, due to additional checks and weather conditions the start was constantly postponed and it was delayed. Before the team came an extraordinary problem that needs to be solved immediately. In the end, the specialists have taken a risky decision and ordered the shepherd to go right in the suit.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

American astronaut Alan Shepard

It is worth noting that this could be the cause of failure of telemetry problems with the system of thermoregulation of the suit, and in the worst case – short circuit. The alternative was to just cancel the flight. However, given the publicity launch, NASA experts decided to take a chance and everything worked out.

The second American astronaut – Gus Grissom – the latter was ready. He was wearing a double-layered bodysuit is made of pads (adult diapers hadn’t been invented yet) so that urine is contained between the layers.

This solution can be described as rather unfortunate, and for the first orbital flight of John Glenn NASA prepared serious.

With this need to do something

NASA realized that you need to think carefully about how the astronauts will be going to the toilet in space, but the Agency did not come easy.

In subsequent years, experts from NASA have offered many solutions to the problem. The first more or less convenient way to urinate in orbit was the urinal (UCD – Urine Collection Device) is made of a condom, tubes and containers for urine.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Urine Collection Device – the first convenient way to urinate in space

However, this method to go to the bathroom was only suitable for short flights into space. The flight of spacecraft “Gemini” took up to two weeks, and here is the UCD one was not enough.

Actually, UCD is still here, it was used on ships “Gemini”, “Apollo” and the space Shuttle at launch. The astronauts-men were in the process of selection of condoms in UCD and could choose to start with a UCD or a diaper. However, already in orbit, it was necessary to use some kind of long-term toilet.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Looked USD on ships “Gemini”

The initial design required that the astronaut had to pee in the urinal at the same time creating traction, manually stretching the receptor.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

The initial system urostomy pouch

The idea was mildly disastrous. First, to provide traction alone was almost impossible, I needed the help of a second astronaut. Secondly, the system often threw urine instead of suction – one wrong move was enough to create excess pressure, not vacuum.

Starting with “Gemini-V” system change – the bag is made adjacent and had to be put on like a condom. In hose added a check valve, which is protected from emissions of urine, and the receptor was replaced by simple soft-capacity.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Modified system of the urinal

As such, the system more or less usable. Since “Gemini” urine (except small packets for further medical analysis) not stored on Board and dumped through a special valve (heated liquid in the vacuum instantly vaporizes and turns into ice, without heating valve would have just clogged up).

Diet of American astronauts

If you cannot resolve the problem of collecting urine was a relatively simple task, the “dump” for American astronauts was not easy. This used the special packages with inner walls covered with an absorbent material. The package had a special adhesive surface and is attached to the buttocks.

Relief after the astronaut special projection package was cleared, and pushing the feces inside, then carefully detaching the package added into the preservative and mixed – it was necessary in order to kill bacteria, also it is not possible to form gases.

Then came the turn of toilet paper and wet wipes. Only after all these manipulations, the astronaut threw everything in the trash.

In General, the whole procedure took about 45 minutes, and there was no way not to fill the cabin with odors. For privacy during this process, astronauts are allowed to turn off the onboard video camera.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Package for defecation, which was used by the astronauts

To the process of defecation, the astronauts passed trouble-free, three days before the flight they were transferred on a special diet, which reduced the volume of feces. In case of delay of flight (and this happened regularly), the diet continued. In part, this allowed the astronauts to do just a collection of urine.

The Apollo program was based on the work of “Gemini”. Liquid waste was collected in the same receiver tanks and discharge overboard. Each astronaut was calculated margin 10 replacement cuff for the bag. The campaign “big time” also experienced significant changes – the astronauts continued to use special packages.

After completion of the mission “Apollo” in 1975, the engineers of the Agency admitted that defecation and urination were “extremely serious and problematic aspects that accompany every space trip”.

From diapers and the bag is moved to the suspended toilet and a full system bathrooms cost $ 19 million, however, developed they were not in NASA. Now to go to the toilet in space was much more comfortable, but there was a time when this process looked more like a torture, not a relief.

Meanwhile, in the Union

It should be noted that the Soviet experts were more cautious and approached the problem of going to the toilet in space before the flight of the first man. Therefore, Yuri Gagarin during his 108-minute walk to space and back have had the opportunity to go to the toilet as he needed.

The system design was relatively simple: the fan created air flow which draws in waste and did not allow them to scatter on the ship. The liquid fraction along the pipe was in the collection of urine and were fixed in a sponge, the solid fraction was delayed in the collection of feces in the plugin package. Then the package was closed and climbed into the compartment for waste. Air filter provided acidulous odor.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

1 – receiver; 2 – collection of urine; 3 – air filter; 4 – fan; 5 – the collection of stool; 6 – exit of clean air; 7 – flexible hose; 8 – signal lamp.

The big advantage of the toilet was the possibility of using both men and women is provided a removable nozzle.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Nozzle for men and women

In the end, the initial design has not changed much, and more than half a century, used on the Soyuz spacecraft. Toilets of Soviet space stations and the ISS work on the same principle and differ only in a full seat, and a complex system of liquid waste.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

The toilet on the ISS module Zarya and the Destiny module

The American station Skylab and the Space Shuttle

Only on the first American space station. which was in earth orbit from 1973 to 1979 managed to develop a system of toilets, which really upped the comfort of astronauts in space.

Contrast to the Soviet counterparts was the use of the same cuffs as “Apollo”. However, the system on the base of the fan is securely created the vacuum for suction of urine. As for the collection of solid waste, the astronauts got almost a full toilet with removable bags.

Much more sophisticated was the bathroom on the Space Shuttle vehicle, although it had its own considerable disadvantages.

The initial idea was great. Everything was conceived so that the flow of air to put the faeces into the receiver without the involvement of the astronaut. However, to achieve reliable operation failed – solid waste is constantly affected by the tunnel walls, and the astronauts had to clean it.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

The toilet on the ship Space Shuttle

Packing system worked feces is not reliable enough, the toilet quite regularly fail. Also, to use the toilet had to undergo special training. On the simulator in the tunnel was a camera with lighting. In the face of the astronaut standing monitor with a scope. The exercise was to place the buttocks in sight and remember correct body position.

Compared to the previous space toilets the system was progressive, a fan and a replaceable nozzle is allowed to use the toilet for both men women. But the toilet turned out to be too complex and insufficiently reliable. According to the recollections of astronaut Mike Mellana before using the toilet it was better to undress completely.

The video demonstrates a training system toilet Space Shuttle

New toilet for the ISS

The old system of waste management on the ISS have long demanded the replacement of the modern. In November last year, the astronauts experienced a real crisis due to the fact that the space station is out of order all the toilets. Then us the bathroom was not working due to constant indication, which reported the fault, and the Russian – signaled a crowded tank waste collection.

Samples of the universal waste management system (UWMS) was purchased in 2015, its integration with the ISS will be until the end of the year. The new toilet is radically different from the old smaller mass, the presence of the metering pump and device for pre-treatment of urine, through which wastes can be effectively recycled in the water.

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

Тяжелая невесомость: история космического туалета от первого полета до МКС

New toilet for the ISS different dimensions, comfort and principle of operation

According to NASA engineers a new toilet system for more comfortable use by the crew of the space station, which includes both men and women. The toilet was modified the shape of the seat, adapted to each crew member. It is planned that the UWMS will be delivered not only to the ISS but also in other missions, in connection with which the toilets will be serviced by the same standard.

The current toilet on the space station was developed in 90-ies and does not meet all technical requirements. In particular, during the adjustment of the equipment there is a risk of breakage of the collector of solid masses in the containers and contamination of the ISS.

The challenges of the future

History of space achievements have brought to the countless number of obstacles. The astronauts had to endure many inconveniences not the least of which was the trip to the toilet in zero gravity. Fortunately today as the ISS crew and the crew of the new ship Crew Dragon are relatively unproblematic to use a bathroom in addition, this process still remains not only intimate, but also time-consuming and requires training and special procedures.

However, the progress is not in place and the problem of the bathroom in space is almost decided, but NASA experts and other scientists have to face new challenges associated with the toilet in zero gravity, and perhaps in the gravity environment on the moon and Mars.

Author:
Michael Year

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ISS
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