Thu, Jun 05, 2008
Oh, Sweet Relief...
Nevermind the STS-124 mission's high-minded installation of the
second and largest Kibo lab module onboard the International Space
Station. What mattered most to the Expedition 17 crew onboard the
ISS had to be the station's ill-mannered toilet... and we're happy
to report it appears the astro-urinal is back in business.
As ANN reported, the
station's Russian-made liquid-waste collection device had been on
the fritz for 11 days, ever since a fan motor suddenly stopped
working. The problem forced astronauts to rely on an ill-dignified
system of plastic baggies... and something NASA obliquely referred
to as a "urine bypass," which relied on another astronaut to assist
with the, er, process.
"Insert that into your daily life, and you can see it would be
quite inconvenient," Kirk Shireman, NASA's deputy space station
program manager, said last week.
But that problem appears to be solved. Russian cosmonaut Oleg
Kononenko installed a new gas-separator pump Wednesday, bringing
the lavatory back up to speed. The part was transported to the
station onboard the shuttle Discovery, which arrived at the station
"It does appear the service-module toilet is back in business,"
Mission Control broadcaster Rob Navias said, reports Bloomberg.
"Three separate tests indicate good air flow."
For those of you wondering how the ISS astro-urinal works --
admit it, you WERE curious -- the gas-separator distills embedded
air bubbles from urine. The liquid is then funneled into a tank
onboard the unmanned Russian Progress ships attached to the
station.... while the air is returned to circulation in the
Speaking of station air quality, also on Wednesday astronauts
replaced one of the carbon-dioxide scrubbers used onboard the ISS,
which was behaving erratically.
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