Surely, you’ve wondered how bathrooms work on planes, trains, buses, ships… And on spaceships as well, yes. How do astronauts go to the bathroom up there? This is a very common, intimate question that few dare to make aloud. And it’s been a long-kept secret until the Italian youtuber astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who explained in minute detail for the International Space Station how to have a number one and a number two.
Picturing that moment in a zero gravity toilet already makes us feel dizzy. However, astronauts are used to it. Sitting down is nearly impossible, so they bend over a kind of container where they store the waste and then send it in a small package down to Earth. Not exactly a gift from the heavens!
As far as number one, the process is more complicated. Astronauts need to strap their feet down, in order to be close enough to the toilet seat, and they use suction tubes that absorb the urine. Yeah, it’s what you’re thinking. Something of a vacuum cleaner. But do not worry: every astronaut has his or her personal hose, and these are especially designed for men or women. Hygiene first!
In case you forgot, water is a scarce commodity in space. At the ISS, astronauts try really hard to optimize the few resources they count on. What’s that liquid resource that humans will always have inside? Yes, that’s right again: urine. That’s why a special method has been designed that allows purifying and recycling over 90 % of the liquid flushed down the toilet. That’s what we call recycling!