Nasa to launch a $23 million female-friendly toilet to International Space Station
Nasa is to launch a new zero-gravity toilet for testing at the International Space Station (ISS) before its probable use in a future mission to the Moon.
A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket blasted off from Virginia’s Eastern Shore Friday evening and boosted a Cygnus cargo ship into orbit loaded with four tons of supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station, including a more female-friendly $23 million space toilet.
Nasa said the toilet’s “vacuum system” was designed for the comfort of female astronauts, unlike previous models.
“When the astronauts have to go, we want to allow them to boldly go,” quipped Jim Fuller of Collins Aerospace, builder of the compact toilet.
The rocket carrying the cargo ship was supposed to blast off on Thursday but the countdown was aborted on computer command two seconds before engine ignition because of technical difficulties.
The Antares rocket suffered a launch abort due to the ground software glitch, but it was clear sailing Friday as Northrop Grumman kicked off the company’s 14th cargo run to the International Space Station.
The Cygnus was packed with crew supplies, including food and clothing, science gear, and other equipment, including a high-resolution camera that will be used to film an upcoming spacewalk in unprecedented detail and 10 bottles of Estee Lauder skin cream that will be featured in a commercial social media photoshoot.
The new zero-gravity toilet is 65 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than the one currently in use in the U.S. segment of the space station. It features multiple design improvements that will be put to the test on the space station before they eventually make their way into Orion capsules bound for the moon in NASA’s Artemis program.
The toilet uses a vacuum system to suck waste away from the body in a zero-gravity environment. For privacy, the toilet is located inside a cubicle – just like in a public bathroom on Earth.