Living in space aboard the ISS certainly poses a myriad of challenges to the astronauts that live there for months at a time. Those challenges include the fact that all the air you breathe, water you drink, and food you eat has to be brought up from Earth aboard rockets. Unfortunately, over the last few years several of these rockets have failed to make it to the ISS as intended.
Another of the major challenges for astronauts in zero gravity is something as simple as going to the bathroom. The European Space Agency has a new tour that shows all you ever wanted to know (and perhaps more) about the toilet on the ISS. The first thing the astronaut in the video shows is the grey hose with the yellow end that is used for your “Number One.”
This hose has a switch that activates a fan, creating a vacuum in the hose that slurps the urine into the hose rather than allowing it to float around the cabin. The same basic thing goes down for “Number 2” with suction keeping the solid waste from escaping.
The seat on the ISS toilet is small and the waste goes into a bag and gets pushed into the solid waste container. It doesn’t seem particularly sanitary. The grossest part about the ISS for me has always been that the urine is recycled and eventually turned to potable water that the astronauts drink.