Waste in space: how do astronauts go to the toilet?

You're in space, you've had your space coffee and space breakfast, and now you need the toilet. How does that work?

View on YouTube

Special thanks to Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell for helping us create this video.

View Transcriptarrow

NARRATOR: Waste in space.

You’re in space, you’ve had your space coffee and space breakfast, and now you need the toilet. 

For #1, foot holds keep you in place. A funnel catches the wee and sucks it into a storage container. If you’re a woman, you put the funnel directly against your body. If you’re a man, you have to place it close enough to catch the wee, but not so close you get sucked into the vacuum as well! Your wee is treated and recycled for consumption.

For #2, you secure yourself over a small opening on the toilet with foot holds. Flowing air in the toilet sucks the waste away―like a vacuum cleaner―to stop any escaping and floating around the cabin. The waste is held in a storage tank and freeze-dried, killing bacteria. This odour-free, non-toxic poop burns up on re-entry to Earth.

In the event of a break-down, it’s back to basics―Apollo-era bags taped to the buttocks, then sealed once filled. Just don’t miss!

Humans in space

Latest videos

Australia's Space Agency: World Space Week

2:03
Video: Australia's Space Agency: World Space Week

What is an equinox?

0:52
Video: What is an equinox?

Meteor lights up sky

2:00
Video: Meteor lights up sky