Science

Cygnus spacecraft delivers space toilet to astronauts on the International Space Station

PHOTO CREDITS: NASA

According to Space.com, a spacecraft named S.S. Kalpana Chawla, after one of the seven astronauts that died in the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster, docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on October fifth. The freighter delivered close to 8,000 pounds of supplies, including a $23 million titanium space toilet. 

The supplies delivered included food, hardware, an assortment of scientific experiments, and the Universal Waste Management System. According to NASA, this expensive new toilet will be tested for potential future use on the ISS, the Moon, and Mars. It is 65% smaller and 40% lighter than the toilet currently on the ISS and it can support larger crews. “The toilet was designed for exploration and it builds on the previous design. The big key to the exploration piece of the design is looking to optimize mass volume and power usage, which are all very important components of a spacecraft design,” said Melissa McKinley, NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Logistics Reduction project manager.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, 63, who is the commander of the current Expedition, grappled the spacecraft with the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, at 2:32 a.m. PDT. After two and a half hours it was finally bolted into place, while reportedly the two spacecraft were flying 261 miles above the South Pacific Ocean. 

The delivery occurred during World Space Week 2020, which is October fourth through the tenth. This is a celebration of the positive impact space exploration and technology have on our day-to-day lives.

The S.S. Kalpana Chawla will remain docked to the ISS until mid-December. Then it will orbit the Earth freely for around two weeks, allowing researchers to conduct an onboard fire-safety experiment called the Saffire-V. The spacecraft will then make a suicide dive into Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of several tons of trash from the ISS in the process.

ARTICLE: JOSEPH MODICA

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

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