On October 5, 2020, the International Space Station received about 4 tons of fresh supplies which included the new titanium space toilet.
The supplies were aboard the robotic CYGNUS FREIGHTER (S.S. KALPANA
CHAWLA) named after the late astronaut Kalpana Chawla. The Cygnus was built by Virginia-based company Northrop Grumman, which holds a NASA contract to fly robotic resupply missions to the space station. The commanding astronaut of the ISS, Chris Cassidy grappled the Cygnus with the help of a robotic arm.
The 8000 pound supplies included pressurized air tanks, VR Module, Spacewalk materials, fresh food and female friendly titanium toilet officially known as Universal Waste Management System (UWMS).
The toilet is weighed at 45 kg and is just 71 centimetres long. The toilet is nearly half the size of the two Russian built ones in the ISS currently. It takes up 65% less space and is 40% lighter as well.
The earlier space toilets were more male centric but now NASA has made the toilets to better accommodate females by tilting it and making it a bit taller.
The new shape should help astronauts position themselves better for No. 2, said Johnson Space Center’s Melissa McKinley, the project manager. Cleaning up a mess is a big deal. We don’t want any misses or escapes, she said.
As for No. 1, the funnels also have been redesigned. Women can use the elongated and scooped-out funnels to urinate while sitting on the commode to poop at the same time, Ms. McKinley told. Until now, it’s been one or the other for female astronauts, she said.
Going to the bathroom in space may sound simple, but sometimes the simple things become very difficult without gravity, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins said, who is commander of the second SpaceX crew, due to launch October 31 from Kennedy Space Center.
The S.S. Kalpana Chawla will remain docked to the International Space Station till mid of December 2020 and then will begin its journey of freely flying around Earth for about 2 weeks to permit the researchers to conduct an onboard fire safety test called the Saffire-V. Then the Cygnus Freighter will make a suicidal dive into the Earth’s atmosphere which will not only end its mission but also dispose off tons of astronaut trash.