Space Station Crew Gets New Toilet

S.S. Kalpana Chawla spacecraft arrives at the space station with supplies and a new toilet.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy captures the S.S. Kalpana Chawla Cygnus cargo spacecraft with the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm | Image credit: NASA TV (YouTube)

The crew of the International Space Station has welcomed a Cygnus cargo spacecraft carrying 7,800 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of supplies and research.

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, dubbed the S.S. Kalpana Chawla in honour of the first woman of Indian descent to fly into space, arrived at the orbiting laboratory earlier this morning. After approaching within 40 feet (12 meters), the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm operated by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy captured the spacecraft at 09:32 UTC.

Following a successful capture, ground controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston took control of the robotic arm and docked the S.S. Kalpana Chawla with the station’s Unity module.

Among the 7,800 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of supplies and research arriving aboard the S.S. Kalpana Chawla is a $23 million titanium toilet and a 360-degree camera.

The Universal Waste Management System (UWMS) is a compact space toilet that will be installed aboard the station in the coming months. According to NASA, the compact nature of the new toilet supports a possible increase in the number of crew members aboard the station.

The International Space Station Experience is a partnership between the ISS National Lab, TIME, and Felix and Paul Studios. The project will see a customised 360-degree camera fixed to the Canadarm2 used to capture a spacewalk from start to finish. That footage will then be used to create an immersive VR experience.

The S.S. Kalpana Chawla was launched aboard a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 01:16 UTC on October 2. The launch marked the 15th Cygnus space station resupply mission since 2013 with the next expected to be launched in April 2021.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.