25Feb2018

NASA’s New Space Suit Has Built-In Astronaut Toilet

Astronauts testing the latest version of the new suits (Image: NASA)

Astronauts testing the latest version of the new suits (Image: NASA)

It’s been an ongoing problem. Astronauts aboard NASA’s next-generation Orion spacecraft will be able to avoid inconvenient trips to the lavatory during missions, thanks to a new space-suit.

Nasa are busy producing new astronaut clobber that includes a long-term waste disposal system. Orion is designed to carry humans well beyond low Earth orbit – possibly to the moon and back again. Which is why NASA is harking back to the designs of the Apollo missions for its new suits.

They will be designed to sustain the crew in the case of sudden loss of cabin pressure and supply vital features like life-support and waste disposal. In fact, astronauts can survive in the new suits for up to six days and should be able to breathe, eat and defecate without taking them off.

lthough Orion will be equipped with a space toilet, there’s no harm in being extra well prepared. Each suit contains a fecal bag and, for men, a condom catheter that fits over the penis and has a tube at the end to collect the urine. These method has been used since the 1970s and remains one of the most straightforward methods of relieving yourself in space. However, a female urine-disposal system isn’t fully developed yet.

“For females, it gets a little harder, obviously, because of the geometry of a person’s body, and then you have to deal with issues like pubic hair,” Kirstyn Johnson, a NASA engineer who is leading the design of the internal systems said. “You start looking at the camping industry,” she said.

Astronauts can become confused, disoriented and even a little queasy in the zero-gravity environment of space (Image: NASA)

“And you start seeing a lot of these portable urination devices that you can carry around with you so you don’t have to squat in the middle of the forest. “[There are] these paper bags that you can take to a concert and women pull out of their purse so they don’t have to sit on a disgusting toilet,” Johnson said.

“It was almost a revelation for me as a female to see all these products — like, who knew these existed? And it’s kind of taboo to talk about but it’s interesting, because it feeds into stuff like this that we’re trying to do with spacesuits.” Both male and female suits come equipped with what are called maximum absorbency garments (MAG’s) which are effectively adult nappies, just in case.

The Orion craft was announced by NASA in 2014 and is intended to carry a crew of four beyond low Earth orbit. It is currently undergoing further testing. Source:  Mirror Online

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