NASA launches upgraded microgravity toilet for International Space Station

NASA launches upgraded microgravity toilet for International Space Station

Late Thursday evening, a Northrop Grumman rocket is set to land off the coast of Virginia, carrying an advanced space toilet for astronauts on the International Space Station. Due to being smaller and lighter than the existing toilets on the ISS, the new commode should be more suitable for women astronauts to use the space facilities.

Called the Universal Waste Management System, The toilet is one of the two upgraded toilets that NASA is earning million 23 million. While scheduled for an initial ISS tonight, a second similar toilet will also be added to NASA’s future deep-space crew capsule, called Orion. NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon using Orion in the coming years, and the Universal Waste Management System, or UWMS, will be inside the capsule for anyone in need of a pit along the way.

Because this toilet would continue to rotate in deep leaps, NASA needed some compact but just as impressive as the old toilets. Heavy and bulky objects are more expensive and more difficult to launch. So NASA did its best to adjust the size of the toilet, making it 65 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than the existing ISS toilet. The agency also says engineers have made the toilet more energy efficient. “You can imagine that adapting them can help in many ways because space and power are at the premium of a spacecraft,” said Melissa McKinley, NASA’s UWMS project manager, at a press conference last week.

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Despite these upgrades, the new UWMS toilet works at least as much as the existing toilets in space. All microgravity toilets depend on one important thing: suction. The suction ensures that the waste generated by the astronauts is actually dragged into the toilet and does not inadvertently float around the crew’s cabin. To get a glimpse of existing toilets mounted on the ISS, astronauts use a funnel attached to a hose, which has a fan inside, which draws urine into a tank. Second, the astronauts sit on top of a tank that uses a single fan that pulls their business into a bag.

UWMS depends on a fan system, as well as a funnel connected to a hose. But NASA says it worked closely with the agency’s astronauts to better design the funnel and the shape of the toilet seat. “The funnel design was completely redesigned to better fit the physical physiology,” McKinley said. “And it’s especially worrying when crew members are trying to double-check – when they’re both tossing and peeing at the same time.” According to McKinley, women’s input provided information about the shape of the funnel, the length and position of the front of the toilet. The seat was also designed to make it easier for astronauts to get to the second position using the hose.

Another great feature of this toilet is that NASA engineers used a special 3D printing technique to make different parts of the system out of foreign metals like inconal, algalloy and titanium. These are strong metals that are needed to withstand the highly acidic solution used to treat urine inside the toilet system. Urine can sometimes contain solid deposits that get stuck in the toilet and increase over time, so NASA pre-retreats the urine with an acid solution to break up the deposits while it is being recycled by the board. Sends into the system.

“The acid we use as a practitioner is very strong,” said Jim Fuller, UWMS project manager at Collins Aerospace, who helped develop the toilet. “It’s so strong that there are only a handful of metals that NASA knows can last longer than this.” Those metals are heavier, however, so NASA came up with a special 3D printing technology to create the parts needed, making them lighter than usual. Probably the biggest 3D printed piece of the system is the titanium fan of the toilet, which is responsible for pulling out all the garbage.

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The Universal Waste Management System is being tested
Image: NASA

One last major upgrade to this system is that it is all automatic. At the moment, astronauts need to turn on the switch to use more toilets on the ISS, but the UWMS fan comes automatically when the astronauts either remove the funnel from its cradle or lift the seat to the “commode”. Give.

NASA has done some testing of the ground toilet, based on different positions to see how well the suction works. Now, the toilet is scheduled to take off from NASA’s Walpus flight facility in Virginia on the Northrop Grumans Entrance Rocket at 9:38 a.m. ET on Thursday. Riding inside Northrop’s Cygnus Cargo Capsule, the toilet will be retrieved by astronauts when the capsule is connected to the ISS. The astronauts will place the UWMS next to one of the existing toilets and test it in the first three months. Eventually, the toilet will become another comfortable home option for astronauts aboard the ISS.

Meanwhile, NASA has more space toilets to design. In June, the space agency launched Looking for a design for toilets that can be used by astronauts when working on space. When it comes to all types of human spacecraft, the complexities of sending people into space must be considered in order to achieve a seamless mission. “When astronauts have to go, we want to let them go with courage,” Fuller said.

About the author: Raven Weber

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