Toilet on International Space Station breaks

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

According to a NASA status report, the lone toilet on the International Space Station (ISS) has broken, leaving the astronauts on board having to use a rigged-up system of bags to collect any liquid waste.

According to NASA, the collection fan motor broke sometime last week after one of the crew used the Russian-made toilet in the space station. The NASA status report quotes the crew as hearing "a loud noise and the fan stopped working". Russian officials have yet to solve the cause of the breakage and fix it. The seven-year old toilet has broken once before but not for a long period of time.

The crew had been temporarily using the toilet in the Soyuz capsule, but this has a very limited capacity.

NASA officials are now considering flying in replacement parts for the toilet and putting them on Space Shuttle Discovery, which is due to launch on Saturday and scheduled to arrive at the ISS on Monday.