By the end of this year, NASA has planned to deliver a new and improved toilet.
The commode, known as NASA’s Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), is designed especially for the longer trips to Mars. But before installing it for that long trip, it will be tested in the orbit itself.
The launch is planned to take place by fall, though the spacecraft to carry the new toilets is not decided yet.
A meeting of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) was held on May 20. This agenda of the meeting was on what human mission to Mars mean for planetary protection, the practice of looking to protect both Earth and the rest of the solar system from cross-contamination by living organisms.
A deputy program manager for Environment Control and Life Support Technology and Crew Health and Performance at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston said, “In the long term, the new toilet is meant to prepare waste-management engineers for some of the challenges experts to anticipate on future missions.”
Since human waste is full of microbes, waste collection and storage system are rip for such cross-contamination by living organisms. Like Apollo astronauts on the moon, Mars visitors won’t simply leave bags of human waste on the planet.
Broyan said, “Our future goals are to stabilize and dry the metabolic waste to make it microbially inactive and possibly reuse that water, reduce the number of consumables for the potty, because it does really accumulate on a long mission, and we’re also looking at, Can we reuse some of the waste?”
UWMS is expected to be used for commercial crew mission. The currently used toilet was designed in the 1990s. It has a few flaws lie it can be clunky to use and also, it is sensitive to crew alignment on the seat.
The UWMS toilets will be tested on the space station and another model will fly on the Orion capsule.