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NASA orders $19 million space toilet from Russia

The US space agency NASA was forced to shell out $19 million to order a new toilet from Russia for their segment of International Space Station, after regular breakdown of the American model due to rich diet of Russian cosmonauts, a report said.

world Updated: Jun 13, 2009 22:32 IST

The US space agency NASA was forced to shell out $19 million to order a new toilet from Russia for their segment of International Space Station (ISS), after regular breakdown of the American model due to rich diet of Russian cosmonauts, a report said on Saturday.

Until recently, cosmonauts from both Russia the US were using common toilet, but for sometime the US astronauts denied access to their Russian colleague of their toilet, sparking a 'space scandal' between the two former Cold War rivals.

"The US astronauts were sick and tired of toilet breakdowns and unpleasant odours. NASA was eventually forced to order a toilet system from Russia. US tax payers paid $19 million for the space toilet. The new construction was installed in the US segment of the ISS," Pravda.Ru website reported.

The Russian-made extraterrestrial toilet system does not differ much from its US-made analogue. The system is designed for both men and women. Urine is accumulated in a special reservoir, in which it is concentrated with a special solution. The processed liquid can later be recycled for the crew's requirements.

The daily ration of Russian cosmonauts is wholesome - more savoury, more natural and more diverse resulting in thicker "outcome", while the US space ration, equally nutritious, but low calorie, results in softer waste and this difference could have ruined the US space toilet after visits by the Russians, the report said.

It claims that Russia - the pioneer in manned space flights - designs best space toilets in the world.

The world-famous mongrel dog, Laika, used the automatic closet in Earth's orbit in 1957. A special system was designed for the dog to suck her excrement and urine from under the tail. The system was good only for female dogs, which explains why male dogs never had a chance to fly into space.

Yuri Gagarin, first man in space, spent only 1 hour and 48 minutes orbiting the planet. A human being can do without toilet for such a short period. However, Gagarin had an opportunity to relieve himself in case of emergency on board the spacecraft.

The space experience of USA's first astronaut, Alan Shepard, was much less pleasant. His flight lasted for only 15 minutes. However, the launch was repeatedly delayed. Alan had to spend several hours in the capsule and urinated into the spacesuit. The next US astronaut had to wear a huge diaper.

USSR's first orbital toilets were custom-made. First cosmonauts Gherman Titov, Andriyan Nikolayev, Pavel Popovich, Valery Bykovsky and Aleksey Leonov had to have their personal 'tailor-made' toilets. A research institute in Moscow still has the bronze toilet bowl, which first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova used, according to Pravda.Ru.

The Russian engineers took account of these peculiarities when designing the sewage system for the ISS. It just so happens that the solid Russian waste ruined the US toilets in space, Pravda.Ru concludes.