Feeds

Atlantis glides home with choked pee nozzle

No more dumps before terra firma?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Space shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station today for its three-day return voyage to terra firma.

All systems are clear for the STS-129 mission's planned landing at Kennedy Space Center on Friday morning — with the small exception of a blockage in the craft's waste water dump line.

During a purge of the Atlantis' waste water tank on Wednesday, mission control noticed a reduction of flow from the waste water store nozzle, located on the left side of the shuttle. Astronauts used a camera on the spacecraft's robotic boom arm to see if an ice formation was clogging the plumbing, but didn't see any major obstructions.

"Capcom Megan McArthur told Commander Charles Hobaugh that it appears there is a slight discoloration that could be frost, but no ice. It is likely that there is a blockage in the line, which will not be a concern for a planned Friday landing," NASA said on its website.

NASA reckons it's unlikely that further waste dumps will be necessary before the landing. Our initial estimates confirm this hypothesis — barring a major Tang binge during the return journey.

Solid waste from the shuttle's toilet is compacted, dried and stored in bags where it is returned to Earth for cremation. Liquid waste from the toilet along with condensed moisture collected from the spacecraft's humidity sensor goes to the waste water tank, located beneath the crew compartment mid-deck floor.

The waste water tank's usable capacity is about 165 pounds and measures 35.5 inches long by 15.5 inches in diameter, according to NASA. A human bladder can hold about 2.2 pounds of urine at maximum capacity.

With seven crew members aboard Atlantis, we will assume each will have a full bladder twice per day, totaling 30.8 pounds of wee. On a three-day journey, (that's 92.4 pounds total), it leaves a good 72.6 pounds left over for collected shuttle humidity. ®

Bootnote

You'll just have to forgive the use of pounds in our estimates. That's the standard unit of mass used for measuring astronaut urine.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.