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NASA toilet
Photograph: NASA

NASA sent a $23 million toilet to space this week

It's called the Universal Waste Management System.

Written by
Anna Rahmanan
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Back in June, we reported that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched a crowdsourcing campaign looking for folks to invent a new toilet system to be used by astronauts on missions. Just a few months later and the creation is already on the way to the International Space Station (ISS).

The $23 million design, called Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), was sent to the ISS on September 29 as part of a resupply mission. Space.com describes the titanium-made system as 65% smaller and 40% lighter than the toilets that are currently used on the ISS. 

"The toilet was designed for exploration and it builds on previous spaceflight toilet design," NASA Advanced Exploration Systems Logistics Reduction project manager Melissa McKinley said in a press conference. "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."

Most interestingly, the prototype includes a urine funnel and seat meant to accommodate female astronauts—an exciting bit of news considering that the agency has vowed to send the very first woman to the moon by 2024.

So, what happens now? Astronauts will actually get to test out the product over the next three years (Earth-bound trials have already successfully been carried out) and NASA will decide whether to eventually use the toilet on its future missions to the moon, Mars and beyond. 

Check out this official NASA poster below for more information about the invention:

NASA toilet
Photograph: NASA

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