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.
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.
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