March 11, 2009 While the thought of rocketing into space might make some people want to soil themselves, going to the toilet in zero gravity is a very real problem for space faring astronauts. Until now the solution has been to strap themselves onto a toilet that is similar to traditional western style toilets but employs a vacuum cleaner like machine to suck the wastes away – doesn’t sound too pleasant does it. Now it seems the Japanese are approaching the problem from a different tack with Pink Tentacle reporting that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has teamed up with engineers from the private sector to develop a next-generation space toilet that is designed to be worn like a diaper.

The proposed toilet is designed to be worn by the astronauts at all times with sensors detecting when the wearer relieves himself or herself. This will automatically trigger a rear-mounted suction unit to draw the wastes away through tubes to a separate container and the device will wash and dry the wearer afterwards. For astronauts who have been indulging in space curry the unit will also incorporate features to eliminate unwanted sound and odor. The research group hopes to develop the next generation space toilet within the next five years with plans to test working prototypes in Japan’s Kibo lab aboard the International Space Station (ISS) – hands up for that job. The team believes the new toilet could also have earthbound uses such as in hospitals for bedridden patients.

The new toilet could also come in handy for astronauts looking to drive non-stop cross-country to confront the other woman in a love triangle.

Darren Quick

Via Pink Tentacle