19 million US Dollars for a space station toilet

A NASA spoke woman said that paying 19 million U.S. dollars for a Russian-built international space station toilet system is a bargain compared to building one from scratch. The toilet system, similar to the one already in use in the station’s Zvezda Service Module, is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2008 and will offer more privacy for a crew expected to double from three to six by 2009. Another plus is astronauts are familiar with how it works because it’s similar to one already in place at the space station. The space station toilet will be installed on the American side, and the current toilet system on the Russian side will remain in place.

The space station toilet physically resembles those used on Earth, except it has leg restraints and thigh bars to keep astronauts and cosmonauts from floating away. Fans suck waste into the commode. Crew members also have individual urine funnels which are attached to hoses, and the urine is automatically transferred to a U.S. device that can generate potable water.