The crew aboard the International Space Station is looking forward to the delivery of a new, more comfortable, more efficient toilet. But it’s going to have to wait a little longer.
The launch of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport was aborted on Thursday night, October 1, just 2 minutes and 20 seconds before liftoff.
The abort came after controllers received “off-nominal data from ground support equipment,” Northrop Grumman said in a tweet.
It’s now hoping to launch the rocket on Friday night, so long as the issue that caused tonight’s postponement can be resolved.
When it gets off the ground, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft will take four tons of supplies and scientific experiments to the space station, including the all-important toilet.
The Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), as it’s called, has been designed in response to astronaut feedback about comfort and ease of use.
“It also features a 65% smaller and 40% lighter build than the current space station toilet,” NASA said, adding that enhanced integration with other parts of the ISS water system will help in the recycling of more urine, which astronauts drink after filtering and processing.
“We recycle about 90% of all water-based liquids on the space station, including urine and sweat,” NASA astronaut Jessica Meir said. “What we try to do aboard the space station is mimic elements of Earth’s natural water cycle to reclaim water from the air. And when it comes to our urine on ISS, today’s coffee is tomorrow’s coffee!”
Fortunately, the three astronauts currently aboard the space station won’t have to cross their legs while they wait for the new toilet to arrive as the existing bathroom facilities aboard the ISS are still in full working order.
The last couple of days have now seen three rocket launches aborted with seconds to go. On Wednesday, ULA’s countdown was halted just seven seconds from launch, while a SpaceX mission to deploy its latest batch of Starlink satellites on Thursday saw its countdown halted 18 seconds from launch. The sudden emergence of technical issues were cited as the cause in both cases.
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