A Handy Guide for Using the Toilet on the International Space Station
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti boldly shows where few people have gone before
image via youtube screen capture
Life aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is about as distant from life on Earth–both literally, and figuratively–as it gets. There, the crew must adjust to a style of living unlike anything on our planet’s surface–a style in which the claustrophobic conditions aboard the station are tempered only by the unfathomable emptiness of outer space. Aboard the ISS, everything, even such simple creature comforts as a hot cup of coffee, necessitates custom-built, cutting-edge technology.
For example, take one of the body’s most basic needs: Pooping.
While those of us on Earth probably don’t think twice about the mechanics involved in using the toilet, astronauts aboard the International Space Station have to be a little more mindful when it comes to dealing with their biological necessities. While we have gravity to help with our bodily functions, the ISS crew has to rely on artificially-created suction to ensure their space station stays clean when nature calls.
To show just what a zero-gravity, space-age toilet looks like, and how it works, European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti filmed this short explanation:
Cristoforetti currently serves on the ISS’ 43rd expedition, as part of the Italian ASI space agency’s Futura mission. After arriving at the station late last year, Christoforetti quickly made a name for herself on Earth by tweeting a photo of herself peering out the station’s window while dressed as Star Trek: Voyager’s Captain Kathryn Janeway.
Cristoforetti is not the first astro-celeb to share a little educational levity with the folks back home. She follows (well, floats) in the footsteps of ISS comander Chris Hadfield, whose quirky and thought provoking youtube hits brought the experience of living in space to millions of viewers around the world, and set the bar for space station viral videos.
For more of Astronaut Cristoforetti’s videos depicting both how different, and similar, life about the International Space Station is, check out the European Space Agency’s Youtube channel.