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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."
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Main Toilet On ISS Craps Out

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  • fed up... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by irving47 ( 73147 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:49AM (#28753233) Homepage

    Is anyone else just completely fed up with NASA and the ISS and our essentially stagnant space program? Most of the stories over the last few years have been:
    Weather-related delays. (yawn)
    Toilet malfunctions (a technology that should have been figured out, oh, say... 30 years ago?)
    #(&$ing FOAM insulation that has been documented as inferior to the original version in use 25 years ago, because of some environmental concerns. Sure, we could go back to the old version for the last 3 or 4 flights, but hey, it's only people's lives at stake, right?

  • Highest paid plumber (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ls671 ( 1122017 ) * on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:55AM (#28753265) Homepage

    Well, I guess the plumber who is going to fix it could go on record as one of the highest paid plumber ever !

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:24AM (#28753399)

    I am completely satisfied with boring, hum-drum, run of the mill, nothing out of the ordinary news reports regarding NASA.


    Because when the stories aren't of the above variety they tend to be things like "Shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds into flight" or "Shuttle Columbia breaks up over Texas on reentry."

    I'll take the boring reports any day of the week thank you very much.

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

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jws[ ] ['myt' in gap]> on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:47AM (#28753501) Homepage Journal

        In case you haven't been keeping score, the space program has been stagnant for decades.

        The "Space Shuttle" program was conceived in the late 1960's and brought to life in the early 1970's. It's first flight was in 1981. So, the most advanced spacecraft humanity has is 28 years old.

        The "International Space Station" platform was announced in 1993, and orbital assembly began in 1998. The base of it is 11 years old.

        I was discussing the space program with some folks not too long ago. We discussed several things about it.

        If NASA designs and builds the absolutely latest greatest spacecraft, with the ability to fly deep into space at the fastest we can conceive now, AND handle life support (air, water, food, etc) for an infinite time, how good would it be?

        We are always discovering new little things about any technology. What's the huge difference between a 1920's car and a 2009 car? Not a lot other than electronics and plastics. The fundamentals of the car are still the same, yet the performance and safety has substantially increased.

        If we had built newer and better spacecraft every year since our first manned space flight in the early 1960's, we'd have over 40 generations of spacecraft. Just since the inception of the Space Shuttle program, we should have 28 newer generations of spacecraft, each with improvements from the previous designs.

        The theoretical max speed and infinite lifesupport spacecraft that was launched in 1985 would have been superseded by a much bigger and faster one by 1990, and for the astronauts who were speeding off to check out the next solar system, they would have already been picked up by the 1990 ship, then the 1995 ship. The probably would have been picked up and returned back to earth by the 2000 ship, because that old technology was so slow. By 2005 it would have been towed back and put in a museum. Instead, virtually every human on the planet hasn't had an opportunity to leave, and even if they did leave the atmosphere (or most of it), they had nowhere to go. There is no Moon, Mars, or Io colony yet. Humans haven't even been there yet.

        People expect a new cell phone every few months, and cell phones have gone from being an expensive brick, to being a tiny piece of electronics that easily fits on your pocket that everyone has.

        Why hasn't the space program become the same thing?

        It's partly because of the government control over space. If there were a financial incentive, corporations would already have their spacecraft going. The governments are also a major cause of the problem. If the governments of the world had been cooperating since day 1, things would be substantially different. There were some great moves made because the US and USSR were competing to get the bigger better craft up. After that died, so did our serious advancement.

        I'm not saying eliminate NASA or the other space agencies. Consider NASA like the FAA for space. The FAA doesn't own or fly many of their own planes, but they sure know just about everything about every aircraft up there. If the FAA owned and operated every aircraft, there would be maybe 6 commuter flights daily instead of the world wide network of flights that we have available now. Why do we accept this?

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

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:13AM (#28755279) Journal
    Nothing is as successful as a boring space mission.

    Unfortunately, the way it plays out in the media is "Nothing is as boring as a successful space mission". So when the government pulls the loose change out of the white house sofas to give to NASA, there is an outcry about wasting taxpayer dollars.

    NASA is in a PR bind. If things go smoothly, they appear boring, and the public says "Why should we fund this?". If there's a few glitches, then they look like a mickey-mouse outfit, and the public says "Why should we fund this?". If there's a major disaster, the public says "Why should we fund this?". The only way NASA comes out good is when it is smashing records, and that will only take you so far.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10