According to the report received NASA has confirmed that the toilet on the International Space Station has failed causing great inconvenience to the astronauts.
Failure occurred due to problem with the fan that draws liquids into the waste chamber prior to being ejected to burn up in the atmosphere. They are in an urgent need for spare parts.
According to Nasa spokesman Allard Beutel:
Like any home the importance of having a working bathroom is obvious.
The International Space Station (ISS) is a research facility currently being assembled in space. The on-orbit assembly of ISS began in 1998. The space station is in a low Earth orbit and can be seen from Earth with the naked eye: it has an altitude of approximately 350 km (217 mi) above the surface of the Earth, and travels at an average speed of 27,700 km (17,210 statute miles) per hour, completing 15.77 orbits per day.
Officials are working on adding replacement parts to the toilet when Space Shuttle Discovery will bring the next module for the Space Station into orbit leaving May 31.
However, at this late stage this may prove problematic as the load on the Shuttle has already been packed and weight distribution is critical on the flight. Another problem is the weight because Shuttle is carrying a 14,500kg Japanese laboratory which is so large that the Shuttle’s robotic arm has had to be removed so there is very little room for other things.
Waste disposal in space has long been an issue, since gravity-fed toilets do not work in orbit. Instead the waste is sucked from the toilet by air pressure.
On May 21, 2008, the vacuum-based space toilet in the space station failed, posing a threat to the station’s long-term hygiene and routine comfort. Earlier, there had been a series of intermittent failures of the toilet system. Due to the zero-gravity environment, a special Russian-built toilet is used to dispose of human waste by sucking it into a sanitary tank using a vacuum.
With this device out of order, the crew are relegated to using the toilet on the Soyuz transport module, which however only has capacity for a few days of use. The only other alternative is the use of so-called “Apollo bags” with sticky openings to collect feces.
This is not the first time that Nasa has suffered problems with orbital plumbing. In 1984 Shuttle astronauts were forced to urinate into plastic bags and store them on board after fears that an improperly working toilet was causing icicles which were damaging the heat resistant tiles.