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So, how do space toilets work? Astronaut Tim Peake answers ‘the big question’

How to use the loo
While it’s certainly been very interesting learning from NASA about how astronauts wash their hair in space and make a coffee, the issue many space fans really want covered is how astronauts take a dump.

British astronaut Tim Peake, currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS), said this week it’s “the big question that everybody asks,” and so kindly took time out of his busy schedule to show us exactly how the space station’s inhabitants go through the motions, so to speak.

In a video (above) posted on the European Space Agency’s official YouTube channel, Peake thankfully spares us a full-on look-at-me video and instead describes the process while floating in the ISS bathroom.

Grabbing a hose from a wall bracket inside the space toilet, Peake tells us that despite the microgravity conditions, the process “really is quite simple.”

The astronaut explains, “Here’s the tube you pee in, take the cap off, turn on the fan, and the air flow keeps everything going down the pipe.” Each astronaut has their own funnel that sits on the end of the hose so both men and women can do the job standing.

Turning to the matter of number twos, Peake points to what looks like a miniature toilet, which again uses an air flow to ensure things don’t get messy 200 or so miles above Earth. Of course, the last think you want to do is float off the john while you’re trying to do your business, which is why the ISS bathroom includes foot restraints for number twos and a toe bar for number ones. Brilliant.

So there you have it – building a log cabin in space isn’t a particularly straightforward task in any sense of the expression, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. So thanks, Tim, for your clear answer to the most common question put to space travelers.

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Trevor Mogg
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