Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
NASA Space

Main Toilet On ISS Craps Out 219

The Narrative Fallacy writes "NASA has spent years getting ready for a crowd in space — adding additional sleeping quarters, learning how to recycle liquid waste into drinking water, and installing a second bathroom last year. But now the main toilet has broken down on the International Space Station while a record 13 astronauts are on board. For now Mission Control has advised the astronauts to hang an 'out of service' sign on the toilet as it may take days to repair. In the meantime, Endeavour's seven astronauts will be restricted to the shuttle bathroom. Last year a Russian cosmonaut complained that he was no longer allowed to use the US toilet because of billing and cost issues. Now the six space ISS residents will have to get in line to use the back-up toilet in the Russian part of the station. The pump separator on the malfunctioning toilet has apparently flooded, and ESA astronaut Frank De Winne is the guy tasked with putting his plumbing skills to work on short notice. 'We don't yet know the extent of the problem,' says flight director Brian Smith, adding that the toilet troubles were 'not going to be an issue' for now."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Main Toilet On ISS Craps Out

Comments Filter:
  • Re:oops (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scott_karana ( 841914 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:57AM (#28753273)

    Mod parent up, toilet failure was the dilemma in the excellent sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

  • Re:fed up... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Comatose51 ( 687974 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:19AM (#28753375) Homepage
    It's easy to criticize when none of us here are experts. Criticize, offer an alternative, and do it all in front of experts then it's worth something. Your statement can easily be changed to be directed at computers and IT. From my past life in IT, I still remember how annoyed users were when the email server went down or there was some networking issue. They couldn't understand why they were restricted from doing certain things or why we had a password policy. One could ask where are our 3D displays? Where are the computers that can understand human voice? Speaking? That's so easy even a 3 year old can do it. Computer vision? What's so hard about that? Again, any child can do it.
  • Re:fed up... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beckett ( 27524 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:20AM (#28753379) Homepage Journal

    sorry the NASA channel can't hold your attention like Starship Troopers, Doctor Who, or Jack Bauer killing space terrorists, but this is what space travel is about. it's expensive, dangerous, careful, and this time, really shitty.

  • Re:fed up... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Comatose51 ( 687974 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:25AM (#28753407) Homepage
    We really have to give credit to NASA and the other space agencies for making manned space flight relatively safe. Compared to the early days such as the lead up to Mercury and landing on the moon, recent space flights have been safe and thus mundane. We did lose two shuttles but averaged over the total number of flights, it's a positive trend. I guess NASA is not failing spectacularly enough for some people. Toilet failure? That's just news for nerds and only nerds.
  • HANG a sign? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:37AM (#28753455)

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means in zero G.

  • Re:fed up... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @03:05AM (#28753571)

    If you think that NASA's budget, even at the height of the Apollo days, would do anything to fund a public health system, you're high as a kite. NASA's funding is simply tiny compared to practically anything else.

  • Re:fed up... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @04:21AM (#28753831)

    That's way safer odds than being president of the USA, and people still want that job!

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @04:39AM (#28753901)

    Waitwaitwait, that's Russian technology?

    *groan* Oh c'mon, where's the problem. Kick it a few times and it works again.

  • Re:fed up... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:02AM (#28754249) Homepage Journal

    Toilet failure? That's just news for nerds and only nerds.

    It also reminds us that space travel isn't only about the latest engines, the best computers, the rocket science and other esoteric stuff, but about some really basic problems that we still have to solve if we want to really travel into space, not just around our little globe.

  • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <.plugwash. .at. .p10link.net.> on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:59AM (#28754523) Homepage

    Agreed, and that is why if we ever want to get a successfull manned trip to mars or beyond we really need a space station because a space station is the only way to get experiance dealing with theese sorts of problems.

    When the space station can go for years at a time without needing any unexpected stuff from earth that is the time to start considering a long distance manned mission.

  • Re:fed up... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <[ ] ['' in gap]> on Monday July 20, 2009 @07:33AM (#28754657)
    No there is a difference between the Russia and American space program. The way I see it the Russians are able to do things, whereas American's tend to run into roadblocks. Why? Simple answer KISS! If you look at the Russian space program you would think that nothing has changed since their stuff seems so old. Yet their approach is if it works keep it! Whereas many in America tend to say, "oh look at this shiny new toy we must use it." Look at the space shuttle. Great idea, wonderful, and advanced. ooops nothing to use after 2010! Russians, still use rockets and look they are becoming the workhorses of the world space program. And did we forget the Russians are the first ones to take civilians into space thus commercializing it? What I am pointing out is that NASA is brighter, but is lacking in execution. Whereas Russians are not as cutting edge and executing just fine...
  • Re:fed up... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by that IT girl ( 864406 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:05AM (#28754787) Journal
    "Toilet malfunctions (a technology that should have been figured out, oh, say... 30 years ago?)"

    Yes, because things we understand and "have figured out" never go wrong. It's not like modern car engines break down or water pipes in houses burst. And I'm REALLY glad computers never break, then I might have to work, or something.
  • Issue Problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:56AM (#28755153) Homepage Journal

    the toilet troubles were 'not going to be an issue' for now.

    No, they are definitely, unavoidably an "issue". Otherwise we wouldn't have a story. It might not be a "problem", though really this is also a problem, but one with a solution. But anything that people can legitimately talk about, that anyone agrees is worth talking about, is an "issue".

    The computer world has turned everyone into a coward afraid of admitting something might be a "problem". Instead, everything's an "issue", which might not be a problem. That's nice: no problem, no blame; just some chitchat and a "resolution". Or it's "unresolved", but that's still not as bad as a problem. Except that's all a bunch of words in denial that there's a problem without a solution. Which makes it hard to solve the problem.

    There is no doubt that losing toilets in orbit, to the point of relying on a backup, across an international divide that was itself a political problem for months, is a "problem". If we can't call that what it is, I don't know if we can take the problems that space exploration brings with it. And that issue is a real problem.

  • Re:fed up... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:41PM (#28757669)

    Why the f. do some people always have to take sides? It's so stupid!
    We're on this planet and especially in this space station together!
    So how about working as a *team*?

    Take the best from the Russians (reliability and ability to go trough rough times), the USA (high tech, money?, etc.), ESA (any ESA person here, so comment on their strengths?), Japan (dito) etc.

    I bet the astronauts themselves are already doing it, and constantly banging their heads on the walls, because of us down here just not getting it!

    Sometimes, I wish something like the "wakeup call" in Watchmen would really happen...

  • Re:fed up... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by recharged95 ( 782975 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:57PM (#28757943) Journal
    Look at the turning point: 1969.
    After that year: billions of dollars every year since then,thousands of people employed, dedicated engineers and the brightest minds in academia (you know, it's 2009), relatively safe would be considered pretty sad with the amount of theory and materials science we knew back in 1960.
    That with the Russians using proven concepts on a showstring budget...
    Give credit where credit's due, not for the sake that someone or some gov't agency was put in control of it.
  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @04:07PM (#28761059)

    What about overboard is so deeply connected to maritime terminology? Any vessel - ship, plane, train, spacecraft - can be boarded. Any replacement word would still come out to a similar term - offboard or outboard perhaps, but doing that is a bit forced and unnecessarily pedantic when everyone already understands overboard just fine.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford