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    Peeing In Space
    By Alex "Sandy" Antunes | January 26th 2010 08:33 AM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Take 2 minutes with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and you too will know how to pee in space.  And the origins of shooting stars.   He starts with "when you go to the bathroom on Earth, you are relying on gravity, pretty heavily... imagine if you were halfway done and someone shut off the gravity, it would be a mess..." and it just gets better from there.  You'll never look at the sky the same way again.



    (Video also available at http://offside.video.ca/video.php?id=27 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&hl=en&v=xwe0-Pd-txI)

    Chris is a great speaker and I recommend you watch the 2-minute video, but me being me, I also typed up a transcript for those who can't access the video.

    When you go to the bathroom on Earth, you are relying on gravity, pretty pretty heavily... imagine if you were halfway done and someone shut off the gravity, it would be a mess.  And you'd float off the toilet.  So, when we designed our space toilet, first it has to have a seat belt on it, to hold you down.
    And then we decided to separate solids and liquids, 'cause they're easier to store that way. so we just have a tube for you to pee into, and it has air pulled into the tube, so it's not a big deal.  For the women there's a cup fits up against them, for the guys it's just like a little funnel, you just pee into this tube and and it goes into a sewage tank.
    But, the solids that come out of your body, that's a harder problem to solve, and it's an important medical one.  'Cause on Earth everything falls on the floor but in space it's going to float around, so it'll really make you sick.  If you re-ingest something that came out of your body, it will really make you sick and we can't afford to get that sick.
    So we designed a toilet so that instead of gravity pulling everything into the toilet it has air flow, there's air pulled down into the toilet, sort of windy when you're sitting there, but it pulls everything that comes out of your body.
    Everything that's comes out of your body gets pulled down into the toilet by the air, and then in the storage tank we just expose that to the vacuum of space so it basically just freeze-dries everything, so it kills all the bacteria, so that there's no smell, and then we just store it.
    And when you have a whole bunch of it stored, we put it into a little unmanned supply ship, and we undock it, and it burns up in the atmosphere.  So the next time you see a beautiful shooting star going across the sky, that's what it might be.
    And who is Chris?  Here's excerpts from his bio from JSC:

    Space flights : In November 1995 Hadfield served as Mission Specialist 1 on STS-74, NASA's second space shuttle mission to rendezvous and dock with the Russian Space Station Mir. During the flight, the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis attached a five-tonne docking module to Mir and transferred over 1,000 kg of food, water, and scientific supplies to the cosmonauts. Hadfield flew as the first Canadian mission specialist, the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in orbit, and the only Canadian to ever board Mir.

    In April 2001 Hadfield served as Mission Specialist 1 on STS-100 International Space Station (ISS) assembly Flight 6A. The crew of Space Shuttle Endeavour delivered and installed Canadarm2, the new Canadian-built robotic arm, as well as the Italian-made resupply module Raffaello. During the 11-day flight, Hadfield performed two spacewalks, which made him the first Canadian to ever leave a spacecraft and float freely in space. In total, Hadfield spent 14 hours, 54 minutes outside, travelling 10 times around the world.

    I'll close with a quote from Bad Company, "Don't you know that you are a shooting star, And all the world will love you just as long,  As long as you are."


    Alex, the Daytime Astronomer


    Tues and Fri here, via RSS feed, and twitter @skyday
    Read about my own private space venture in The Satellite Diaries


    Comments

    The best explanation of the shuttle toilet I've ever heard included the line, "It's designed for the sh*t to hit the fan."

    It's good to know the science behind the 0-G Whiz...

    Fred Phillips
    Nonetheless, my friend at NASA who was in charge of designing the shuttle computer system said one of his toughest problems was making it impervious to floating globules of urine.

    Yes, new meaning for the term "computer whiz."