You can imagine that living on the International Space Station is not exactly a walk in the park. You’re sharing tiny spaces with other astronauts, supplies are limited, and there’s no gravity. The last thing you’d want is a leaking toilet but that’s something that the crew has now had to put up with as well.
The commodes that they use on the ISS are not exactly the ones that we use here on Earth. They actually cost $19 million and were delivered with the space shuttle Endeavour back in 2008 after the previous one malfunctioned.
Don’t think they let the waste just fall gracefully into space. It’s actually sealed and sent back to Earth on a cargo ship that burns up on re-entry. The urine, though, is recycled into drinking water.
A NASA status report mentioned that a leaking commode spilled almost two gallons of “water” in the toilet. A leaking commode would be bad enough in your toilet here on Earth but at least you could take a hose to it and see it all washing away down the drain.
The crew aboard the International Space Station do not have this luxury. According to the status report, they had to clean up the spilled sewage using towels while trying to fix the leak. Gives you a newfound appreciation for astronauts, doesn’t it?