Have you ever wondered how Tim Peake goes to the toilet in space? There are several questions, including that one, that adults wonder about but rarely ask, and tend to be the first questions children ask when given the chance.
This week, Major Tim Peake, the British ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut who is aboard the International Space Station, explains what a space toilet is like, how it works, and how you use it.
In fact, there are two separate pieces of equipment, which one you use depends on what you need to do.
The European Space Station website explains that instead of flushing with water, the toilet has a suction tube that carries the waste away with an air stream down into a suction hole. The solid waste gets compressed, stored and disposed of later, while urine is collected in a separate container to be recycled. The purified urine is processed and breathing air for the crew is one of the products generated.
In a video issued by the European Space Agency this week (at bottom of page), Major Peake says:
“And the big question everybody asks ‘How do you go to the loo in space’.”
Toilet in space is a simple procedure
He says the equipment and procedure is quite straighforward. There is a tube with a funnel at the end that the astronaut pees into. You take the cap off, turn on the fan, and the airflow makes sure that all the urine goes down the pipe.
Major Peake added:
“And also, for number two (he taps a toilet seat with his hand), the airflow does the same thing. It is as simple as that.”
The International Space Station has two toilets – in the Zvezda and Tranquility modules.
Astronauts spend a long time training sitting on space toilets to learn how to create a strong seal. It is important to know how to align yourself properly.
At the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, there is a bathroom with two space toilets for practice. One is fully functional while the other is a ‘positional trainer’.
Video – Toilet in space
In this video, ESA astronaut Tim Peake explains how astronauts aboard the International Space Station go to the toilet.