They are "self contained"....part of the reason they are "wisked away" upon landing and then reappear all clean shaven and in NASA street type clothes.
You know TRANCE calling someone an idiot really isn't nice. Especially when you are dead wrong. It kinda seems to indicate your own MORONIAL status.....
Even before reaching outer space, an astronaut is likely to have problems with urination.
When seated in their acceleration couches before liftoff, astronauts are on their back, with legs elevated above their trunk. This position enhances blood flow to the kidneys, which respond by increasing production of urine. Staying in such a position for hours is likely to fill the bladder to capacity.
Shuttle astronaut Jerry Linenger comments:
I can personally attest to the fact that it is impossible not to have a tremendous urge to u*****e when your legs are elevated above your head for three hours. Whenever one of the crew began to whistle softly, we knew what he was up to. [Linenger, p. 61]
Today, astronauts wear the "MAG" during liftoff -- a diaper by any other name. "Once in orbit, any wet MAG is removed, placed into a sealable plastic bag, and stowed in the wet trash compartment for the duration of the mission" [Linenger, p. 61]. But it wasn't always so routine...
Pre-Flight: The Early Days
The movie The Right Stuff, famously (and humorously) depicts Alan Shepard's confrontation with this problem, in the first American manned space mission. (In the movie, Shepard's pre-flight coffee intake was blamed for his urge.) Shepard was ultimately forced to u*****e in his space suit.
[Borman's diarrhea on Apollo 8]
In the microgravity environment of space, it is apparently possible to move oneself around by f*****g. For this and other reasons, the toilet on space station Mir had restraining devices. "The restraining devices also serve to keep the user from being thrust away from the toilet seat when what could tactfully be described as digestive gas thrusters are fired" [Linenger, p. 59].
Up until Skylab, "waste management systems" aboard spacecraft were primitive. The "device that collected the feces was a plastic bag that was stuck to the posterior [with adhesive] during defecation," NASA bluntly reports. "The system used for urination was a version of the time-honored `motorman's friend,' so called because the hose-and-bag unit was worn by the streetcar motorman, whose job gave him little opportunity for a rest stop." Cecil frankly is appalled--not that the astronauts were subjected to this indignity (there wasn't much choice), but that the motormen were. Gives new poignance to the term "labor unrest."
Things improved dramatically with the advent of Skylab and later the space shuttle, both of which were equipped with what is recognizably a toilet, though admittedly of the George Jetson variety. The problem is the lack of gravity, which plays such a vital role in earthbound elimination. Instead we substitute what amounts to a vacuum cleaner. Sure, it's a little drastic, but there are times when only drastic measures will do.
Besides, it's not so bad. Let's suppose you propose to cleanse yourself fore and aft, so to speak. First you seat yourself firmly on the commode. (Bear in mind that you wear civvies aboard the space shuttle, not a space suit.)
Various ingenious restraining devices are provided so you don't drift off at an untoward moment. In front of you is a urinal--essentially a funnel with a hose. It can be moved around if you later want to do your business standing up. The commode seat is cushioned so as to make a good seal with your bottom, thereby ensuring good suction and preventing the escape of undesirable substances.
Then you turn on a fan inside the commode and do your business. The fan pulls the nasties into a sort of mesh bag that traps solids but allows liquids to pass through. The water is pumped to a storage tank, which is later emptied into space. When you're done, you seal up the top of the commode and open the bowl to the vacuum of space. The moisture in the solids boils away instantly, considerably reducing their bulk. (NASA folks cheerfully refer to this process as "freeze-drying.") A special device compacts what's left and it's stored in the commode until you get back down to the ground.
Doesn't sound all that complicated in principle, but I'm skipping a lot of the fine points. (You don't really want to know about the waste water crosstie quick disconnect, do you?) Here's how astronaut Woody Spring described the experience in an interview with the Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation:
"During some of our training in the weightlessness environment, we practiced "potty training," which is unlike any seat one is accustomed to. It involves placing yourself over a special 4-inch hole seat, and sitting just right in order to maintain a vacuum seal. Naturally, this seat must accommodate people of all different sizes. To help practice placing ourselves correctly we used a closed circuit TV with a bull's-eye target from which we practiced; it wasn't easy."
I'll bet. Worse, there's always the chance that all the high-tech stuff may fail, forcing you to fall back on the good old "Apollo bag," already described. Worst of all, there's the danger you could leave the seat up while flushing, as it were, thus sucking out all the spacecraft's air and killing everyone. All in all, Cecil thinks he'd just as soon hold it till he got home.
Answered By: Capt - 7/17/2006