US space agency NASA and the Elon Musk-owned SpaceX were forced to scrub the lift-off of the Falcon 9 rocket yesterday, meaning the first launch of humans into space by a private firm will be postponed until the weekend. A new launch time of 8.22pm BST (3.22pm ET) has been scheduled for Saturday from NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
Although the Crew Dragon capsules incorporate numerous upgrades, one in particular acquire the most attention – its toilet.
We’ll let you know how it works out
Astronaut Doug Hurley
The SpaceX toilet is officially called the Crew Dragon “waste removal system”.
The two NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the Crew Dragon will spend almost an entire day in the capsule.
This means it is vital a toilet is on board the Crew Dragon.
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Unfortunately, defecatory details concerning the SpaceX Crew Dragon’s toilet remain under wraps.
Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of mission assurance, said during a news conference on Monday in response to a question about the toilet: “I don’t know the potty answer to the potty question.”
However, more intimate information about this mysterious SpaceX toilet may be revealed once the NASA crew returns to Earth.
Doug Hurley said in an earlier news conference: “We’ll let you know how it works out. We’ll let you know when we get back.”
There does remain a possibility the toilet will not be put to the test at all.
Former NASA astronaut and current SpaceX consultant Garrett Reisman has previously revealed his encounters with space toilet tech were so uncomfortable astronauts often just “hold it.”
Mr Reisman told Space.com: “I can tell you from personal experience, and data collected by NASA — it’s kind of like going on a camping trip, in the sense that, for the first 24 hours, your body kind of shuts down a little bit as far as the digestive system goes.
“So, I guess where I’m going with this is, I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of pooping on Dragon.”
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A potted history of the space potty:
Although the toilet on the orbiting space station is even more antiquated, it nowhere near as bad as the Maximum Absorbency Garment nappies astronauts used on missions like the Apollo Moon trips.
But the $19,000 Russian-made toilet is also not popular with astronauts.
Astronauts use a funnel equipped with a fan that suctions their pee away, so it does not float away.
Then it takes about eight days for the liquid to become drinking water again for the astronauts.
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has logged 665 days in space says things aren’t so simple should you wish to do more than urinate.
She told Business Insider: “Number two … is more challenging because you’re trying to hit a pretty small target.”
ISS residents go to the bathroom into a little plate-sized hole on top of that silver can, using the fan to vacuum-suck the excrement away.
After the astronauts are done, the faeces gets sealed up in a plastic bag, to await the opportunity for disposal.
Ms Wilson added: “After it starts getting full you have to put a rubber glove on and pack it down.”
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