In what would have been a 'stinky' catastrophe, astronauts at the International Space Station faced a scare when both space toilets in the station stopped working on Saturday, according to international news reports. Reports state that the space toilets were non-functional for a considerable amount of time, according to an update sent by Russian space agency Roscosmos. This downtime had allegedly scared the US astronauts and Russian cosmonauts, aboard the ISS.
Reports further elaborate that the Space station has two Russian made toilets - one placed in the US section and the other the Russian cosmonauts' section. Reports add that of the two toilets one of the toilets had already been suspended from use as it was full to the brim. Hence, when the second one went out of function, the astronauts were forced to hunt for other options - use diapers or use temporarily use the toilets on the Soyuz spaceships docked on to the ISS.
Fortunately, the malfunctioning toilet had only needed a separator replaced, as revealed by another Roscosmos update. After replacing the separator, reports state that the toilet was made available for the astronauts' use after some time. The astronauts were saved from a hygiene emergency as the conundrum did not reportedly last long.
Unlike the usual toilets on Earth, the bathrooms on the ISS are called hygiene centers, as explained by a science website. When an astronaut uses the hygiene center for urination, the urine is sucked into the toilet by using suction fans. It is then sent to a purification system. Human feces is not recycled this way, they are disposed of separately, explains the science website. The ISS can reportedly recycle about 93% of the liquid waste it receives into clean potable water.