At last the brave astronauts aboard the International Space Station have received their $19 million Russian toilet, and are ready to start using it to turn their urine into tasty drinking water.
There's been an ongoing toilet crisis on the ISS ever since the last one broke, and we've been trying not to imagine all the pooping into bags that's been going on up there. Luckily, the new mega-recycling toilet was already in the works and arrived this week. Already, flight engineer Sandra Magnus has installed it and the plumbing is all hooked up and ready to go.
All they need now is some privacy. Apparently the toilet came with a flimsy curtain, which Magnus removed in order to install the toilet. Hopefully they'll re-hang the curtain - or maybe get a door or something for just a little more privacy.
The toilet is part of a much bigger overhaul of the ISS life support systems, which includes a complete water-reclamation system for recycling the astronauts' urine and sweat for use as gray water as well as (hopefully) potable water too. Right now, the water recovery system (pictured below) that will recycle urine has been tested back on Earth and the purified urine is deemed safe for use in washing. Further tests will reveal if it's safe to drink as well.
The water recovery system, it is hoped, will make life easier for a bigger crew in the coming year. Six astronauts will crew the ISS, doubling the number of humans living in orbit.
All images via NASA.