NASA To Send A New Toilet To International Space Station
Be challenging. Even simple tasks here on Earth are much more difficult in orbit like going to the bathroom. But that's about to get a little easier, especially for the growing number of women. Astronauts from member station W. M. Fi, Brendan Byrne reports. NASA is sending a new toilet to the S. When it comes to building NASA's next toilet. Jim Fuller takes pride in his work. You know, when the astronauts have to go, we want to allow them to boldly go. Fuller is a project manager at Collins Aerospace, working on the $23 million contract with NASA on the agency's next generation, potty or a NASA speak the Universal Waste Management system. A new cosmic ca mod is smaller, lighter, more efficient and built with three d printed parts. So it can be fixed easily in space because the agency plans to send this toilet not only to the international space station but to the moon. And one day maybe Mars. To do that Engineers have to shrink down the system, says NASA's Melissa McKinlay. The space capsules are very small and use of the toilet area takes up a lot of space on a spacecraft and we want to get this is usable is possible, but minimize it where we can going to the bathroom in space is not easy and space toilets are complex Number two right here, show you, but you see, it's pretty small astronauts, Sonny Williams demonstrated how to use one when she Is on the in 2012 in space. You can't rely on gravity to move things where they need to go. Instead, a zero G toilet relies on fans and vacuums to pull material away from the astronauts and preferably from the rest of the crew to Williams says solids are directed into bags or been for disposal. So you have to have a pretty good aim. Can you be ready to make sure things get? Let go the right direction, and it smells a little bit so I'm closing it up. Liquid waste astronauts use a hose with a funnel attached to it well, that poses a challenge when female astronauts need to use the toilet for both functions, McKinley says. Due to the differences in male and female anatomy, women have issues aligning the urine collection funnel while also using the solid waste portion of the toilet. A new NASA designed better accommodates the female anatomy, which is important as more women. Astronauts travel to space. Well, it's that time retired astronaut Nicole Stott spent more than 100 days in orbit. I really like that they're going on with this way, because I think there's just in general, you know, understanding that there have been some challenges with. You know the toilets with their current design, but also that it says, Hey, we acknowledge that this demographic is part of the astronaut corps. Now it's kind of sad. The toilet to do that, right? NASA's issues with equipment for women is no secret. A historic all female spacewalk was delayed last year when the agency didn't have the correct sized space suits. NASA will take the toilet design changes and apply them to the development of other new tack like spacesuits to focus on anatomical differences. I think it's telling that that's just becoming As part of the initial design for what we want to do, and you know if we go further and further from a planet that would want to consider all of our crew mates in the way we design things, If all goes as planned. The new toilet will be installed later this month, and NASA is asking the astronauts to give it all they've got to stress test the system. For NPR News. I'm Brendan Byrne in Orlando.