When nature calls in space

May 4, 2011 • 9:47 am

I know you’ve wondered how astronauts relieve themselves in zero gravity.  National Geographic’s “Known Universe” has the answers in this video.  No worries: it’s actually a marvel of engineering, and you won’t see anything gross.

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33 thoughts on “When nature calls in space

    1. If I’m not mistraken, the semester either just ended for him or is about to end. We’re lucky all we’re getting from him is videos about poop in space — just have a look at the incoherent babbling from the Squidly One!



    2. When you spend a long time staring at flies down a microscope, sometimes you need a loo break.

  1. Very amusing usage of language. H.W.Fowler will be spinning & fascinated ~ both at once.

    Cupboard label @ 01:47:


    NASA loves labels & euphemisms

    “Gender Funnels” FFS 🙂

    1. Scraper tools… In space no one can hear you scream!

      I can vaguely recall the Moon missions involved some sort of nappies?

          1. HA!! Now I wish one of my kids was still in nappies/diapers so I could send my husband to the store with “urine and fecal containment system” on the shopping list…

      1. Wow– and $19 million was cheaper than building their own… and here I thought $500 heated toilet seats with bells and whistles in Japan were expensive…

        1. Love those. My first experience with one was in an upscale hotel in Osaka. There was an instruction manual, mostly pictograms, on a counter beside the toilet.

          I just don’t understand how those things seem to be able to hit the right spot everytime.

          1. They are pretty fun toilets… though it’s a good idea to keep young children away from them. My middle son wandered into the WC in the early morning at grandma’s house, pushed a button, a sent a huge spray of water arcing out of the toilet. He was just short enough that the jet of loo water hit him right in the face. I pulled him back out of the spray… and the water went shooting into the hallway. It took me at least a minute to figure out which button to push to turn the bum-washer off, by which time the floor was well nigh unto lake-hood.

            1. I never thought of that! My kids would have a field day.

              How about cats? Have your cats ever messed with the controls?

              1. Company housing… no can haz kitteh:-(( But my mother-in-law’s kitties have never touched the controls (as far as I know…)

  2. Anyone who’s interested in this sort of stuff should read Mary Roach’s new book Packing For Mars. It’s excellent, and full of all sorts of weird little bits about what it takes to put people in space and the research that went into figuring that out.

    1. I love the transcript in the book of the space station communication with mission control when somebody says “OK, who’s is that?” as a an escaped turd floats across the cabin. As I recall nobody claims it.

  3. Well I, for one, feel calm and complete now– I’ve wanted to know the answer to that question for literally decades. I can remember sitting at the dinner table in junior high and asking my mom and dad “how do astronauts go to the bathroom in space?” (don’t ask how that topic came up at the dinner table… suffice to say that our dinner-table conversations were fast and furious;-))

  4. This was of course foreshadowed in “2001: a Space Odyssey” though all we saw was the long list of instructions.

    I guess they couldn’t just have two buttons marked #1 and #2 and a chip, if they wanted it to be 100% reliable. (“Oh noes, ‘404 Not Found’!”)

    And why collect it in a bag when they could just discharge it to the outside, using the cabin pressure? (With a nozzle pointing towards the sun…)

  5. My brother (who started his obligatory draft-era naval career as Ensign Benson, which all his loving relatives called him all the time) was stationed on an aircraft carrier in the early 60s, and they picked up one set of astronauts; he reported to us that they smelled absolutely godawful.

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