There are a lot of things that we take for granted on Earth that we might not necessarily consider when in space. Take for example the humble pen, which works fine on Earth thanks to gravity, but in space, it’s an entirely different story which is why engineers had to create a special pen designed to work in zero gravity.
The same can also be said for toilets, and more recently, the folks at NASA have packed up a $23 million toilet that they are now sending up to the ISS. So what’s the big deal about a toilet, you ask? The current toilets, which are built in Russia, are big and heavy. The newly-designed toilet has been created to weigh about 100 pounds and is 65% smaller than the current model.
They also feature a new design with a tilted seat and has also been created to take into consideration the female anatomy. It has also been designed to capture more waste than before, and will also use suction to help keep waste from escaping, which is something you obviously don’t want while floating about in space.
The new toilet will also treat urine that helps it be safely processed by the spacecraft’s recycling system. NASA will not be replacing the current toilets, which are expected to remain in use until the end of the space station’s lifetime. Instead, they will exist alongside the current toilets. In the meantime, if you’re curious about how the toilets work in space, check out the video above to see the current setup.