I thought this must be some kind of joke but it is obviously a deadly serious piece of news: NASA has purchased a Russian-made toilet system for $19 million dollars. The expensive toilet will be installed on the American side of the International Space Station. Astronauts have used the same toilet system on the Russian side of the space station for years. Leg and thigh restraints will keep astronauts in place while they do their business. During operation, fans in the toilet suck stuff to a septic and wastewater tank – after all floating poo is very bad thing.
Sending water into space is a very expensive proposition, so water rationing and recycling are top priorities for NASA and the Russian space agencies. Almost all water is recycled with a three step purification process that supposedly makes extremely pure tap water, according to NASA. Astronauts scrub themselves with wet clothes instead of using typical showers found on Earth. The urine is recycled into water for drinking and showering. Body sweat is also recycled by condensing it out of the air and running it through filters. The toilet is expected to be installed in 2008. NASA says the $19 million dollars is cheaper than what it would have cost the agency to design its own toilet system.