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Toilet: How do toilets work in space?

The astronauts fasten themselves to the toilet, so that, their body won't float away. They then use a device similar to a vacuum cleaner to suck any wastes away.

Inside the Space Shuttle, there are no wash basins or showers, but the Shuttles do have toilets. The toilet facility is 1 meter by 1 meter large. Both men and women use the same toilet.

The toilet looks similar to a western style toilet that we use on Earth. However, there is a slight difference. The astronauts fasten their bodies to the toilet, so that, they won't float away. They then use a vacuum-cleaner-like machine to suck up the wastes. The wastes are then vacuum-dried.

A curtain, not a door, partitions the toilet space. So, you may imagine the sounds from inside the toilet space could be heard outside. However, in the Shuttle, it is quite noisy. The sounds from the air conditioning fan, motors, and other noises are so loud that when you use the toilet, the sounds from inside the toilet space cannot be heard outside.

In order to sit correctly on the 10 cm suction toilet opening, since their bodies will be floating in the air, the astronauts use a training device that's equipped with a camera.

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Space Shuttle's toilet (left), Toilet used for training (right)
   
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