Top 10 Moments in Space Bathroom History


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ISS toilet
In 2012, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide made repairs to a water pump used for toilet flushing on the International Space Station. NASA

When a toilet breaks on Earth, you call a plumber. But when a $19 million commode goes on the fritz in space, fixing it isn't as easy. In July 2009, one of the toilets on the International Space Station broke when its pump separator flooded, forcing the six station crew members and seven visiting astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour to share the one remaining toilet on the American side — or ask permission to use the toilet on the Russian side of the space station.

At least the astronauts had other working facilities available: A year earlier, the Space Station was equipped with only one toilet. When that lone toilet's motor fan broke, the crew was left crossing their fingers — and legs. Fortunately in both cases, the crew was able to perform some emergency plumbing and they quickly got the broken toilet back up and running again.