Space toilets

The only toilet on the International Space Station was having problems for a week, but fortunately it's working once again. To celebrate, Scientific American's JR Minkel takes a look back at NASA's space toilets. From Scientific American:

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In an interview published in 1977 Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart called the dump of waste liquid at sunset "one of the most beautiful sights" in orbit. "As the stuff comes out, and as it hits the exit nozzle, it instantly flashes into 10 million little ice crystals which go out almost in a hemisphere … a spray of sparklers, almost," he said. "It's really a spectacular sight."

Defecating, however, is apparently a bit less majestic. The Apollo module had no privacy, let alone a bathroom. When Schweickart or one his fellow highly trained colleagues felt nature's call, they taped a plastic bag to their backsides.

"You just float around for awhile doing things with a bag on your butt," Schweickart tells Then came the task of dislodging the excrement (no gravity, remember?) without spreading it everywhere. All told, Schweickart said, the process took about an hour.