How Do You Poop in Space? A NASA Astronaut Breaks It Down

When the crew of the The Ark (streaming now on Peacock) boarded their interstellar spacecraft, this with the knowledge that they would never see Earth again. The trip to Proxima centauri was always one-way, even before things went wrong mid-journey, and that meant taking everything they needed with them.

Even in the real world, leaving the safety and comfort of Earth comes with many challenges. There are the obvious things like making sure the crew has food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe. But what goes in must come out. No one likes to talk about it, but everyone does it, and figuring out how to deal with it is essential to human space exploration. Talking about one of the most natural works in one of the most unnatural surroundings; Talking about space convergence.

Astronaut Mike Massimino Drops The Truth About Pooping In Space

If you’ve spent any time thinking about astronauts living and working in space, you’ve probably wondered how they manage bathroom time. It feels like a crass question, the kind of thing you wouldn’t say around the dinner table, but a lot of thought has gone into making sure astronauts in orbit can reliably eliminate bodily waste.

It turns out that using the bathroom after blastoff is a lot weirder than we realized and involves learning to use the toilet again. Astronaut Mike Massimino dropped the proverbial bomb during a conversation with Kal Penn on a recent episode of The Daily Show.

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It’s actually an interesting process and requires a lot of training, Massimino says, and he’ll learn. Massimino was selected for astronaut training in 1996 and flew the Space Shuttle Columbia on a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2002. The crew of that mission upgraded the telescope with a new power unit, solar array , and camera. Massimino then flew another Hubble mission in 2009, this time aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. During that mission, Massimino became the first person to send a tweet from space.

He first became wise to the problem of orbital twosies early in the training. Massimino flew a T-38 with the famous NASA astronaut John Young Young who flew to the Moon twice on Apollo 10 and Apollo 16, became the ninth man to walk on the Moon, and was the commander of the first Space Shuttle mission when he asked what. it’s like going to the Moon. Mike, I’ll tell you, the best thing about it, Young replied, is that you can get a st. Young went on to explain that a few days in microgravity on the way to the Moon was enough to upset his digestion. The sixth weight of the Moon is just enough to move everything in the right direction again.

During astronaut training, the schedule may include training or robotics training; it can also include potty training, according to Massimino. While potty training, astronauts sit on a non-functional practice toilet designed to find proper alignment.

The key to pooping in space is to hit a very small target. It’s not a big flush toilet, it’s a small opening, so you have to get it aligned properly, says Massimino. As he relays this, the training instructor leaves the room and locks the door behind them. Even at NASA some concessions are made for personal privacy. Then the astronauts fired up a closed-circuit television connected to a camera inside the toilet, which gave them a bird’s-eye view of the events above. Most of us don’t want to know ourselves well, but the cost of space travel is high.

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This is the truth; these are the true deep dark secrets of NASA. They want you to talk about UFOs because they don’t want you to know about this stuff, Massimino said with a laugh. With this camera looking, you have a short [sic] circuit TV, small TV, and you practice your alignment to make sure you are in the center of where that opening is.

Then it’s a simple matter of memorizing your body position and copying it perfectly once you’re in space. Listen, we all want to see the planet floating peacefully in the calm, black ocean of space, but we’re not sure we want to think about taking a poo. And what if something goes wrong?!

Catch the complete first season of The Ark, streaming now on the Peacock, and appreciate toilets firmly connected to the ground.

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