The Evolution of How We’ve Handled Sh*t in Space

The Evolution of How We’ve Handled Sh*t in Space
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    We usually think of Astronauts in only the most heroic terms.
    Brave women and men in peak physical and mental shape who will risk it all to further humanity's
    reach into the great beyond.
    But as the Japanese author Taro Gomi so eloquently put it, everyone poops.
    And NASA is still looking for the number one way to dispose of number two.
    When we first started taking baby steps into space, NASA tried to get around the problem
    by keeping astronauts from having to go entirely.
    Weightlessness actually makes poop travel through the body faster, so to counteract
    this for short missions astronauts ate a low fiber diet for three days before launch.
    The early days of longer crewed missions had the most crude solutions.
    Apollo astronauts used what was essentially a plastic bag taped to their butts.
    And yes, the bags were clear, I guess so the astronauts could see if they
    had the right stuff.
    It may shock you but dropping space trou and pinching off a brown asteroid into a bag didn't
    always go smoothly.
    Famously the Apollo 10 mission, the dress rehearsal for the moon landing and the step
    before the giant leap for mankind, had an unexpected passenger along for the ride.
    It happened six days into the mission.
    Commander Tom Stafford was the first to notice it: a turd floating around inside the capsule [laughs].
    It happened 6 days into the mission.
    Commander Tom Stafford was the first to notice it: a turd floating around inside the capsule.
    Between fits of laughter the three astronauts on board all denied ownership of said turd
    claiming they would have known if they had pooped on the floor, or that their poop was
    more sticky.
    Regardless Stafford stepped up and grabbed the space waste with a napkin, and that's
    why he was the commander.
    To this day no one has owned up to it, but the transcripts of the exchange are public
    record.
    My favorite part is they were at one time marked "Confidential," presumably to keep
    the Russians from learning about our state of the art butt bag technology.
    The space shuttle had a more conventional toilet, though it required training with an
    underseat video camera to master.
    Yes shuttle astronauts were toilet trained twice in their lives.
    Today astronauts on the International Space Station have a vacuum powered toilet to catch
    any floaters.
    It even has a seatbelt, probably to keep them in place in a microgravity environment, but
    maybe in case they have a really intense session, I don't know.
    But we haven't stopped developing space toilets, we've got our eyes and tushies
    on the prize.
    Yes, there is a prize for a better space loo.
    Dr. Thatcher Cardon is a family doctor, a flight surgeon, and a colonel in the US Air
    Force.
    In 2017 he added "Winner of the Space Poop Challenge" to his many prestigious titles.
    Dr. Thatcher developed a system that allowed astronauts to go to the bathroom while still
    in their suit, eliminating the need for diapers.
    The system relies on an air lock at the astronauts crotch.
    When the astronaut takes off the cap, a self-closing valve keeps air from escaping.
    The astronaut can then insert a tube through the valve that can be used to slide a number
    of things inside the suit, like an inflatable bedpan, a bidet, wet wipes, even fresh underwear.
    This technology might not just help astronauts avoid diaper rash, it could be essential if
    their spacecraft is pierced by debris and they have to spend days inside their suits.
    For his sanitation innovation Dr. Cardon was awarded $15,000, which is nothing to sniff
    at.
    As glamorous as space exploration is, it has a funny way of reminding us that we are still
    human, and still have to solve some very basic human problems.
    Rockets that get us to Mars are important, but making sure the first person to set foot
    on it doesn't track poop on their boot is important too.
    If this video made you laugh, then I'm sorry but you have to subscribe.
    Those are the rules.
    Poop's not the only problematic waste.
    In 1963 A Mercury capsule had several systems go dark thanks to a leaky pee bag.
    Thanks for watching and I'll see you next time on Seeker.
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