National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the launch of its new space toilet named 'Universal Waste Management System' (UWMS). It is scheduled to be launched along with other cargo, on Northrop Grumman's contract resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Tuesday.
This new space toilet will be worth $23 million and will be used in future missions to moon and mars. It will support the large crew of NASA's Commercial Crew Programme. A UWMS will be installed on the Orion Spacecraft for the Artemis II flight test which will send astronauts on a 10-day mission to the Moon.
On the International Space Stations where astronauts live and work for months, the UWMS will help recycling pre-treated urine water for further use by feeding it to a regenerative system, while on missions of shorter duration the waste will not be pre-treated and will just be stored for disposal.
"We recycle about 90 per cent of all water-based liquids on the space station, including urine and sweat What we try to do aboard the space station is mimic elements of Earth's natural water cycle to reclaim water from the air. And when it comes to our urine on the ISS, today's coffee is tomorrow's coffee!" NASA astronaut Jessica Meir told India Today.
The zero-gravity conditions of outer space make it difficult to carry out basic human biological processes. The UWMS uses airflow technology to pull urine and faeces away from the body. The new space toilet will also have an automatic airflow when the toilet lid is lifted which will help in odour control. It will have a more efficient design, requiring less clean-up and maintenance time, with corrosion-resistant, durable parts to reduce the probability of maintenance outside the set schedule, NASA said in the latest statement.