Thursday, May 29, 2008

In space, no one can hear you...uhhhhh...

When you think about missions to outer space, you think of the importance of complex computers, oxygen systems, rockets and the such. But there's another piece of equipment that's also really, really important:
Astronauts aboard the NASA space shuttle Discovery will be carrying an extra piece of cargo when they launch on Saturday -- a new toilet pump.

Crew members aboard the International Space Station have been fumbling with plastic bags since their zero-gravity toilet went made "a loud noise" and stopped working properly last week.

"We will be taking some spare parts up," NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

The three station crew members want the toilet working properly for obvious reasons -- but on Saturday they will be sharing facilities with seven space shuttle astronauts.

"You can imagine you are having guests over and your one and only bathroom is broken. Clearly this is something you want to have working," Beutel said.

Discovery will carry a pump and other spare parts for the toilet, which is still disposing of solid waste.
If you read the whole thing, you'll find out about how the toilets work and where the waste goes. Let's just say that the concept of a space walk just became a little less appealing to me.

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