NASA launching new space toilet and more to space station this week
A private cargo spacecraft will lift off from Virginia on Tuesday (Sept. 29), carrying tons of fresh supplies to the International Space Station, including scientific experiments, skincare from Estée Lauder and a brand-new space toilet.
The mission, known as Cygnus NG-14, will be deliver 7,624 lbs (3,458 kilograms) of cargo on the14th flight for Northrop Grumman’s robotic Cygnus spacecraft and the resupply craft’s 13th mission to the International Space Station. Cygnus will launch atop an Antares rocket Sept. 29 at 10:27 p.m. EDT (0227 a.m. GMT Sept. 30) from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Northrop Grumman has named the Cygnus spacecraft the S.S. Kalpana Chawla to honor astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who was one of seven astronauts who died in the Columbia shuttle tragedy in 2003.
You can watch the launch live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, directly at NASA TV beginning at 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT Sept. 30) or at NASA Wallops’ Ustream site beginning at approximately 5:30 p.m. EDT.
“Humanity faces many challenges today, and I’m proud to be part of a community that accepts challenges on a regular basis that turns problems into solutions and opportunities into reality,” David Brady, assistant program scientist for the International Space Station Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said about the launch during a prelaunch teleconference Thursday (Sept. 24).
The nearly 8,000 lbs. of cargo carried to space by Cygnus will include crew supplies like food alongside scientific experiments and even a newly updated space toilet, officially called the Universal Waste Management System. The cargo will be delivered to support the Expedition 64 crew aboard the space station, though pretty soon SpaceX’s Crew 1 astronauts may make use of some of this cargo, as they are set to launch on Oct. 23.
NASA’s new space toilet for the International Space Station undergoes testing at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. (Image credit: NASA)
The $23 million space toilet, which was created with astronaut input, will be among the important experiments and equipment sent with this launch. This toilet is 65% smaller and 40% lighter than the toilet currently on the space station, NASA officials said.
It was designed to optimize “the use of the toilet for the female crew, and NASA spent a lot of time working with crewmembers … to improve the use of the commode,” Melissa McKinley, NASA Advanced Exploration Systems Logistics Reduction project manager, said during the same teleconference.
The cargo will also include a radish-growing experiment known as Plant Habitat-02; the Onco Selectors investigation, which will focus on cancer therapies; a novel water recovery system experiment; a specialized camera that will capture what it’s like to be aboard the space station in 360-degree virtual reality; bottles of skincare serum from Estée Lauder; and much more.
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