There is a new toilet in SpaceX! So, to answer every kid's (and most adults') burning question: how does this space toilet work?
SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship architecture is cloaked in proprietary secrecy, so it is unclear how the restroom facilities work. We do know, however, that the toilet is located on the ceiling.
A glass dome, known as a cupola, will be installed at the capsule's nose and visible from that spaceship section.
So, what makes this SpaceX's toilet unique from others?
A Spaceship's Toilet with 360-Degree-View of Space
According to Jared Isaacman, a billionaire entrepreneur and jet pilot who acquired four seats on SpaceX's spaceship for a civilian voyage to space, passengers will be able to gaze out the windows while using the restroom. It will be the first orbital mission without a professional astronaut aboard. It will also have the world's first 360-degree view toilet.
"It's not a ton of privacy. But you do have this kind of privacy curtain that cuts across the top of the spacecraft, so you can kind of separate yourself from everyone else," Isaacman, who will be commanding the mission, told Business Insider. "And that also happens to be where the glass cupola is. So, you know, when people do inevitably have to use the bathroom, they're going to have one hell of a view."
Isaacman's proposed mission, Inspiration4, might take off as early as September 15. The group will spend three days orbiting Earth at a higher altitude than the International Space Station (ISS), taking in the sights and doing science experiments. Business Insider said Dr. Hayley Arceneaux, Air Force vet and engineer Chris Sembroski, and scientist and analog astronaut Dr. Sian Proctor were given the other three Crew Dragon seats by Isaacman.
Along with Jeff Bezos' intentions to peer above the edge of space for three minutes on July 20 (albeit that is a suborbital trip) and a mission next year that wants to take three paying customers to the ISS aboard a Crew Dragon capsule, Inspiration4 aims to usher in a new era of space tourism.
SpaceX has sent professional astronauts to the space station thrice for NASA. Still, none of those spaceships featured a cupola. Because the astronauts needed to climb into the orbiting laboratory, the capsules' noses were required to dock to the ISS. Because the Inspiration4 crew will not be docking anything, SpaceX has replaced the docking mechanism with a window where passengers can stand.
The cupola is designed to provide passengers with breathtaking views of the Earth. It just so happens that there is a toilet nearby.
"Probably most 'in space' you could possibly feel by being in a glass dome," Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and chief engineer, said of the new cupola on Twitter.
Probably most “in space” you could possibly feel by being in a glass dome https://t.co/SOAIzxVGgX— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021
Inspiration4 Crew Still Learning to Use the Spaceship's Toilet
Isaacman, a self-described "space nerd," founded Shift4 as a payment processing startup at 16. He is still the company's president and CEO. Draken International, which has a huge fleet of ex-military aircraft and trains Air Force and other pilots, was also formed. According to Forbes, Isaacman sold his controlling ownership in that company for "a nine-figure payment." His net worth is estimated to be $2.9 billion.
In his spare time, Isaacman flies planes and has at least twice circumnavigated the world. He leaped at the chance to buy a Crew Dragon flight when he found out about it. Although neither SpaceX nor Isaacman have stated how much he paid, NASA has calculated that such a trip may cost $55 million per seat.
Isaacman collaborates with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on the Inspiration4 mission to arrange science experiments for the crew to conduct while in orbit. To aid NASA in gathering data on how spaceflight affects the human body, the four crew members intend to draw blood, collect skin samples, and run cognitive tests on each other.
The location and design of Crew Dragon's toilet have been kept a secret by both SpaceX and NASA, but previous passengers have provided clues.
During the Crew Dragon's first crewed voyage to the International Space Station last year, NASA astronaut Doug Hurley told reporters that the lavatory works similarly to the one Crew Dragon first used on the Space Shuttle, and it worked flawlessly. He added they did not have any problems with it.
The toilets aboard the Space Shuttle and Russia's Soyuz spacecraft used crude hose and bag systems. The Crew Dragon's toilets are likely to be similar. This may be difficult for civilians like Isaacman and his crewmates to acclimatize to. Peggy Whitson, a NASA astronaut, told Business Insider that going to the bathroom was the toughest aspect of life in space.
According to Isaacman, learning to use the toilet is part of Inspiration4's intense pre-flight training.
Check out more news and information on SpaceX in Science Times.