Skip to main content

Watch a space tourist answer the most common ISS question from earthlings

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy revealed last year that the most common question people ask him is: “How do you go to the bathroom in space?”

A number of astronauts have posted videos on YouTube demonstrating the process, but in recent days, this most delicate of questions was tackled for the first time by a space tourist.

Japanese billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) last week for an 11-day stay as a paid space tourist.

A few days ago, the amateur astronaut shared with his 10 million Twitter followers all of the steps needed for a successful bathroom visit in microgravity conditions.

The lack of gravity means that engineers designing the space toilet had to consider how to prevent waste from floating off to who knows where and contaminating the station.

In his very informative video (below), Maezawa shows off the suction mechanisms used for both number ones and twos. A hose takes care of the former, while the latter requires you to sit on a tiny, uncomfortable-looking seat that’s clearly a far cry from some of the plush designs that Maezawa’s native Japan has become known for.

Perhaps the most essential part of the space bathroom is the rail attached to the floor. This secures the astronaut’s feet so they don’t float about while doing their business.

【衝撃映像】宇宙でのトイレ事情 【Toilet 101】Nature Calling in Space

Note: English subtitles for Maezawa’s video are available via the player’s CC button.

For a long time, the ISS had two toilets, but last year that increased to three with the arrival of a new one sporting a slightly more ergonomic design than the one shown in Maezawa’s video. A counter on one of the older toilets recently showed that it had been used 40,000 times since the station went into operation two decades ago.

Maezawa, who has also paid an undisclosed sum to go on a flyby of the moon with SpaceX in the coming years, said the hardest thing about using the toilet was doing everything in the correct order. By that he meant turning off the suction mechanism after you’re completely done, and not before.

The space tourist added that so far he’s managed to avoid any disasters.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Space station crew to celebrate New Year, but at what time?
The space station and Earth.

The Expedition 68 crew from left: NASA astronaut Frank Rubio; Roscosmos cosmonaut Dmitri Petelin; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata; NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann; and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Anna Kikina. NASA

The seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are getting ready to see in 2023, but how do they know what time to shout "Happy New Year!"?

Read more
How to watch two U.S. astronauts on a spacewalk on Thursday
Expedition 65 flight engineer and Roscosmos cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov, pictured during a spacewalk to perform work on the Pirs docking compartment.

NASA Live: Official Stream of NASA TV

UPDATE: Wednesday's spacewalk was postponed after orbital debris was spotted close to the station. A new date for the walk has been set for Thursday, December 22. Details below.

Read more
Watch space station’s new solar array unfurl in space
A new solar array unfurling at the space station in December 2022.

Two American astronauts successfully completed a spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, December 3.

NASA’s Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio spent just over seven hours outside the orbital laboratory before concluding their spacewalk at 2:21 p.m. ET. This was only the second spacewalk for both astronauts, following the pair’s first one on November 15.

Read more