International Space Station to test $23 million zero-gravity toilet

US space agency, NASA to launch a new zero-gravity toilet for testing at the International Space Station (ISS) before its probable use in a future mission to the Moon.

The US$ 23 million toilet, which sucks waste from the body, will be sent to the station on a cargo ship.

Nasa said the toilet’s “vacuum system” was designed for the comfort of female astronauts, unlike previous models.

A rocket carrying the cargo ship was supposed to blast off from Wallops Island, Virginia, on Thursday.

But the mission was aborted less than three minutes before lift off because of technical difficulties.

Another launch attempt is due on Friday evening if engineers can fix the issues that caused Thursday’s delay.

On board will be the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), the new titanium space toilet that Nasa says will help astronauts “boldly go” during deep-space missions.

The toilet uses a vacuum system to suck waste away from the body in a zero-gravity environment. For privacy, the toilet is located inside a cubicle – just like in a public bathroom on Earth.

Nasa says the toilet represents an upgrade on the current facilities in the US part of the ISS.

Weighing 45kg (100lbs) and standing 28in (71cm) tall, the toilet is 65% smaller and 40% lighter than the one currently in use.

Designers also gave more consideration to the comfort of female astronauts.

“[A] big part of our project was optimising the use of the toilet for the female crew,” Melissa McKinley, a Nasa project manager, told the BBC’s US partner CBS News.

“Nasa spent a lot of time working with the crew members and doing evaluations to improve the use of the commode seat and the urine funnel to make it more accommodating to use by female crew members” she said.

US$ 23 million toilet will suck waste from the body