Feeds

ISS toilet fails to suck

Cross-legged astronauts request spares

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Russian ASU (Ассенизационно-Санитарная Установка, or "Waste Management System") aboard the ISS has pretty well clapped out following the failure on 21 May of the unit's air/water separator heralded by a "loud noise", according to NASA.

The agency explained last week: "The crew then replaced the separator with a spare unit but reported afterwards that the ASU lacked suction. The crew next replaced the F-V filter insert, which provided good suction for a while but again exhibited weak suction. TsUP/Moscow instructed the crew to deactivate the ASU and use the toilet facility in the Soyuz spacecraft."

The ASU is a pretty belt-and-braces affair, sucking in a urine/air mix through a funnel, separating the air for recycling into the ISS's atmosphere via a deodorising filter while storing the waste liquid in a tank. Solid waste is likewise sucked into the system via a nozzle for bagging and later disposal.

Women astronauts wishing to take a leak are not, of course, suitably equipped to avail themselves of the funnel, and are provided with sanitary-napkin-type pads.

Despite the ISS crew's best attempts to fix the cantankerous bog, it was still on the blink yesterday, as NASA admitted: "Troubleshooting continues on the Russian ASU toilet facility. Almost all system components have been changed out at this time, including the separator with no improvement in function. Specialists feel the problem is with the separator pump, though they have never before seen this failure signature."

Spare parts are, mercifully, being "last-minute manifested" for Space Shuttle Discovery's jaunt to the ISS due to blast off on Saturday, with NASA hopefully finding space aboard for "a new ASU separator pump".

Discovery's main task on the 14-day STS-124 mission is to deliver the second consignment of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory, constisting of the large Japanese Pressurized Module and robotic arm system.

The spacecraft will also drop off new ISS crew member Greg Chamitoff and bring back Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman at the end of a three-month stint aboard the outpost. NASA has a mission summary here (pdf). ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.