According to statistics from the World Toilet Organization, a person spends about 3 years in the toilet in his life. At this moment, perhaps you are reading this article on the toilet.
You may have complained that gravity is too small when you are constipated, but have you ever thought about astronauts in zero-gravity space, using the toilet in space has always troubled countless astronauts, because if you are not careful, the universe will appear” Flying shit”.
In order to enhance the toilet experience of astronauts, NASA recently sent a space toilet worth $23 million to the International Space Station.
There is no doubt that this is the most expensive toilet in history.
Where is the space toilet expensive?
The full name of NASA’s new space toilet is the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS). It weighs 45 kg and is 71 cm tall. It is 65% smaller in size and 40% lighter than the toilets currently used by the International Space Station. It can be integrated into the life support systems of different space vehicles.
In zero-gravity space, the large intestine is also in a state of weightlessness, so no matter how hard it is, it cannot be excreted as smoothly as the earth. The feces and urine can only be drawn out of the body through a strong airflow and stored in a special container. The air flow of UWMS is produced by 3D printed titanium alloy dual fan separator.
Compared with the old-fashioned space toilet, UWMS also has a new feature, which is to automatically start the airflow when the toilet lid is opened, which can control the odor diffusion.
Don’t underestimate this function, because in space, the smell of excrement and urine cannot be naturally dispelled by air flow like the earth, so the peculiar smell is frozen in the air. NASA astronaut Jason Hutt was impressed by the smell :
If you want to reproduce the smell, take a few dirty diapers, used microwave food wrappers, and a few sweat-soaked towels, put them in an old-fashioned metal trash can and put them in the hot sun for 10 days. Then open it and take a deep breath.
At the same time, UWMS is also more ergonomically designed. Titanium alloy material greatly improves the corrosion resistance and durability of the toilet, so as to save more time for cleaning and maintenance, allowing astronauts to spend more energy on research and exploration tasks.
According to Melissa McKinley, NASA’s Advanced Detection System Logistics Planning Manager, another major feature of the new space toilet is that it is more friendly to female astronauts. When sitting on the toilet, it uses a specially shaped funnel and hose to absorb urine. The old toilet It can only be done separately.
In addition, UWMS is also equipped with another black technology, the urine purification function, which can recover and purify the urine of the astronauts and turn it back into drinkable water.
It is reported that the urine purification function of UWMS is achieved through the Urea Bioreactor Electrochemical System (UBE), which efficiently converts urea into ammonia, and then decomposes ammonia into water and energy. NASA urine processing engineer Jennifer Pruitt believes that the pure water obtained in this way is cleaner than any water on earth.
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir said that at present, the International Space Station can recover 90% of water-based liquids, including urine and sweat, in an attempt to simulate the Earth’s natural water cycle on the International Space Station.
In the outer space far from the earth, water recycling is the key to the survival of astronauts. Because of the high transportation costs, the International Space Station needs to replenish 2,200 liters of drinking water every year, which costs as much as 220,000 US dollars . The space for the International Space Station to store drinking water is also limited.
In addition, if humans want to leave low-Earth orbit to explore further interstellar space, the difficulty of supplying materials will also increase. The goal of UWMS is to achieve a 98% liquid recovery rate before humans go to Mars. The International Space Station is currently the only test site where this system can be verified.
The reason why NASA spends huge sums of money to develop space toilets, in addition to preparing for future interstellar exploration, is probably also fed up with Russia’s toilets that malfunction from time to time.
In 2007, NASA ordered a space toilet from Russia and stated that it was more cost-effective than its own research and development. Unexpectedly, it became a nightmare for many astronauts.
From urine pants to black technology toilets, it’s an alternative “space shit”
Give me a piece of toilet paper, there is a pile of shit floating in the air.
This scene took place on a manned mission of “Apollo 10”. Commander Thomas P. Stafford had to call for help when faced with a sudden “flying foreign body”.
In the early years, the spacecraft did not have toilets, and diapers were not invented at the time. Astronauts could only use urine bags that looked like condoms to go to the toilet. What about the female astronaut? Don’t worry about this issue, there were only male astronauts.
But this method is not safe. In 1961, Alan Shepherd became the first American astronaut to enter space, but he also set another embarrassing record.
When Sheppard was waiting for launch in the rocket, she suddenly felt like peeing. He applied to the command center to solve it in the space suit. After 2 hours of discussion, the superior finally approved it. This made Sheppard the first person to pee in the spacecraft. Spaceman in pants.
If astronauts want to be large, there is no way, they can only enema before launching, and choose low-fiber foods when eating to avoid stimulating bowel movements. Friends who have undergone colonoscopy should be familiar with them.
It was not until the Apollo project that people in space had a special stool collection bag for defecation, also known as an “Apollo bag.” This is a bag that can be glued to the buttocks, and a fungicide is added every time it is convenient to crush it.
Due to the limited space of the spacecraft, the waste of the astronauts would not be left on the ship. Urine will drain directly from the port side of the ship and quickly form ice crystals. Astronaut Russell Schweickart of Apollo 9 said:
The most beautiful scene in space orbit is the urine at sunset.
When Apollo landed on the moon, in order to reduce the weight of the spacecraft when it returned, the astronauts directly threw the used “Apollo bag” on the moon. Not long ago, the United States announced that it would restart its moon landing plan. One of its tasks was to bring back 96 bags of stool that were left on the moon.
In the 1980s, Tang Xinyuan, a Chinese engineer known as the “father of space suits,” developed a material with strong water absorption. Space diapers made of this material can absorb 1,400 grams of water, allowing astronauts to perform a 10-hour mission without interruption. Solve the problem of convenience for astronauts.
Astronaut Samari Nova, who knew this kind of space diaper’s powerful water absorption ability, even wore it and drove for 12 hours continuously, spanning 1,440 kilometers to chase down his love rival.
Later, this material was also widely used in the civilian field. People have to thank Tang Xinyuan for the diapers that people wear today.
At present, there are two toilets in the International Space Station, located in two compartments in Russia and the United States. Both use airflow to suck out excrement and disperse solid waste into containers through rotating fans. This is a great improvement over the past.
However, it is still not easy to go to the toilet in space, because the opening of the space toilet is only a quarter of that of the daily toilet, it is not easy to aim.
Therefore, the International Space Station specially installs a simulated toilet next to the toilet for astronauts to practice. This simulated toilet has a built-in lens. After sitting on it, you can see if you are aligned through the monitor next to it.
After going to the toilet, the astronauts still have to take a mirror to look behind him to see if there is something that shouldn’t be left behind. The picture is funny just to think about it.
These are nothing but despair when the toilet fails. The two toilets of the International Space Station had failed many times before. According to astronaut Peggy Whitson, sometimes she even had to grab the feces floating in the air with her hands.
When the space toilet fails, it is not only a health problem, but also threatens the health of astronauts. NASA scientists have discovered strains that are highly resistant to antibiotics in the toilets of the International Space Station, which may evolve into pathogenic bacteria and cause sickness in space.
In order to design a more usable space toilet, NASA also launched the “Moon Toilet Challenge” in June this year , soliciting designs for the “Moon Toilet” from around the world, which will be used in the moon landing plan in 2024.
NASA requires that the “Moon Toilet” must meet a number of design requirements, such as normal operation under both microgravity and lunar gravity, compatibility with male and female users, and simultaneous urination and defecation.
In a few years, astronauts may usher in a new space toilet with a better experience and a higher cost.
From earth to space, the “gender bias” of technology products is everywhere
Both the UWMS sent to the International Space Station and the “Moon Toilets” collected by the public are emphasizing the need to meet the requirements of female astronauts. This can be said to be a big improvement, and it also reflects the use of men as aerospace equipment in the past. The central question.
Taking the current toilets of the International Space Station, even if the experience has improved a lot, it is still more difficult for female astronauts to aim at the funnel when urinating.
Coincidentally, the first all-female spacewalk that was originally scheduled to take place in March last year was forced to cancel because there was no spacesuit size suitable for female astronauts. Later, NASA released new spacesuits of non-fixed size and suitable for both men and women.
In the early years, the United States excluded women from candidates for astronauts because it was suspected that women would lose too much blood during their menstrual period, which later proved that this problem did not exist.
As the author of “Paradise Flower: The Story of a Female Astronaut” pointed out, women have always faced the dual challenges of gravity and secular prejudice in the aerospace field.
Fortunately, as social concepts change, gender prejudice also slowly changes. The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which carried China’s first female astronaut Liu Yang, modified the design of the spacesuit in the cabin for her, and made gloves more suitable for female astronauts based on female palms.
In fact, apart from space, “gender bias” in product design can be seen everywhere on the earth.
For example, the design of car seat belts does not consider women much. According to statistics, in the past 10 years in the United States, women are 71% more likely to suffer minor injuries than men, 47% more likely to suffer serious injuries than men, and 21% more likely to have a mortality rate than men in motor vehicle accidents in the United States.
This is because most of the mannequins used in the car crash test are based on the average male figure, and the “China Automotive Technology and Research Center China New Car Evaluation Regulations” for the frontal collision requirements of the car also place male dummies in the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, The female dummy is only the rear passenger in the preset test scene.
In the medical field, there is no lack of “boy-oriented” product design. The artificial heart produced by the French medical technology company Carmat was originally based on the male figure. Therefore, this life-related product is suitable for 86% of men, but only for about 20% of women.
During the epidemic this year, many female medical staff had to wear protective clothing that was too large despite the smallest size, which greatly increased the risk of infection.
Although the topic of gender equality is often caught in endless quarrels on the Internet, a large number of technological products have become an extension of organs. Eliminating gender prejudice in products and allowing everyone to experience the convenience of technology on an equal basis is still a valuable thing. .
It is said that design is human-oriented, and there should be no difference between men and women.