How Do Astronauts Poop in Space? And 5 Other Questions That Are Killing You About Space Travel

Space travel is full of mysterious and terrifying dark and loneliness, but for some reason, most humans, at some point or another, yern to explore the dark nothingness of space as an astronaut. So while we contemplate the endlessness of space, there are likely to be some questions that pop up, like “what if I have to poop up there?” Well, let’s hop into the daily lives of astronauts.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Inspiration4 crew launches from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on September 15, 2021
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Inspiration4 crew | CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

How do astronauts poop in space? 

According to DW.com, space pooping is much more complicated than many of us might think. DW says that the first space toilet came about in 2000. The idea was to strap the astronauts to the toilet with straps across their thighs. The pressure on the legs was meant to create a seal between the cheeks and the seat. 

The lack of gravity is the enemy for when nature calls. Unfortunately, the thigh straps didn’t work out so well. “Houston, we have a problem.” 

Nasa went back to the drawing board in 2018, where the agency spent $23 million developing a vacuum toilet. As soon as an astronaut touches down on the pot, the suction begins. The suction keeps the spacefarer glued to the bowl and creates the necessary seal. The deposit is then immediately burned. However, Urine is recycled for drinking water. 

Can astronauts drink in space? 

astronauts joke about having vodka on the ISS
astronauts holding “vodka tubes” | Nasa

Thomas Stafford and Deke Slayton went up in 1975 and were given “vodka tubes” for the journey. However, it was really just a gag. The tubes were labeled with a Russian vodka brand, but the tube’s contents were just borscht. 

According to DW, alcohol is strictly forbidden on space missions and in the ISS, where the two were conducting their work. I feel like the alcohol ban in space makes plenty enough sense without explaining why it could create some issues. 

How much money do astronauts make? 

The crew of Apollo 11
Apollo 11 | Nasa

Being an astronaut is a cliche dream to have as a kid. Many of us dream of speaking to control, leading an expedition to another world, and possibly quenching our thirst for answering the big questions. However, how many of us never stopped to think about how much this dream job pays? 

Neil Armstrong was the highest-paid member of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. That flight alone paid Armstrong $27,401, which in today’s money equals roughly $210,000. However, astronauts at this time got a Chevy Corvette for $1. I guess we’ll call that a perkToday, Nasa astronauts make between $66,000 and $160,000. I’m not going to lie; facing the enormity of space for $60,000 seems plain dumb. Nasa scales pay based on experience and academic achievement. 

Is space travel bad for humans?

There are plenty of factors that could lead to us questioning just how good all those G forces, months without gravity, and whatever else is out there are for us. DW notes that microgravity does take a toll on the body. Fluid builds up in the head, and about a liter of blood is shed.

This stuff aside, scientists are still unsure of exactly how space travel affects humans’ health in the long run. But due to relativity, astronauts technically come back a few milliseconds younger. So, that’s something. 

Can astronauts have sex in space? 

Married astronaut couple climbs out of space craft
Mark Lee and Jan Davis | Nasa

Reports on this space activity are still unconfirmed. There are obvious logistic issues with having sex in zero gravity, but it’s nothing a little creativity can’t work out. Nasa doesn’t appear to have any rules forbidding it. However, astronauts are at work while up there, so maybe inter-office relations are still frowned about. 

That said, in 1992, married couple Mark Lee and Jan Davis joined a NASA mission shortly after getting married. For professionality and respect sake, I’ll leave it there, but, come on.

How do astronauts sleep in space? 

Most people don’t get a good night’s sleep if they can’t stay in bed. Given the lack of gravity, staying laying in the bed is quite tricky. 

Astronauts love some velcro. They love it so much; they have a wall made of the stuff that their fancy space sleeping bag can adhere to keep them grounded all night – or walled? 

Humans really aren’t made for space

You have to admire the determination it takes not only to get to space but stay there and survive. Space is clearly not meant for us to live in, but we do it anyway. Thanks to the harshness of the final frontier, daily life activities become serious undertakings in space. We, earthlings, get to enjoy the show while the bravest people from Earth toil in the heavens. Godspeed, travelers.

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