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NASA launching new space toilet better designed for female astronauts

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NASA is set to test its first new toilet in decades for use in space on the International Space Station, with a design better-suited for use by women.

The $23 million toilet is set to be flown to the space station Thursday, with an eventual goal of transporting it to the moon. It weighs about 100 pounds and is 28 inches tall, about half the size of the space station’s two existing toilets. People living on the space station will test it in months ahead, according to The Associated Press.

Existing toilets on the space station are built with men in mind, while the new model is taller with a tilted seat, according to project manager Melissa McKinley of Johnson Space Center.

“Cleaning up a mess is a big deal. We don’t want any misses or escapes,” she said.

The funnels used for urination will also be better engineered for use by women, according to the AP.

NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, who formerly lived on the space station and is set to join the next SpaceX crew, told the AP the design changes could make a major difference.

“Trust me, I’ve got going to the bathroom in space down, because that is a vital, vital thing to know how to do,” she told the news service.

NASA most recently ordered a new toilet in the early 1990s, intended for use on two-week shuttle missions. The new design also made other alterations to adjust for general complaints about existing commodes, according to the agency.

“The [Universal Waste Management System] includes foot restraints and handholds for astronauts to keep themselves from floating away,” NASA said in a statement earlier this month. “Everyone positions themselves differently while ‘going,’ and consistent astronaut feedback indicated that the traditional thigh straps were a hassle.”

Tags International Space Station NASA Space toilet

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