Toilet Training In Space

By Keith Cowing
October 21, 2001
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Dennis Tito addressed a very enthusiastic crowd at the Space Frontier Foundation’s convention in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Among the recollections of his mission was an incident previously unreported.

Much was made (mostly by NASA) about the amount of training Tito had received on the various systems on the ISS prior to his visit. Eventually, after a war of words, NASA gave in and signed off on Tito’s skill mix – so long as he didn’t touch anything – and that he be escorted thorough the ISS by an astronaut at all times. That was just fine with Tito since he said his mother taught him the critical lesson of not touching things at age 7.

According to Tito, the issue of crew training proficiency arose with others in space at the time. Hours before Tito’s arrival, Space Shuttle Endeavour undocked from the ISS. Prior to that departure, an issue arose with the Shuttle’s toilet: it didn’t work. A request was made to use the toilet on the Russian Segment of the ISS.

There was one small problem: none of the American crew were trained in the use of that toilet.

After a while, the Russian commander of the ISS relented and the American astronauts were allowed to use the toilet – but only after being trained in its use and operation. With a smile on his face, and riotous laughter from the audience, Tito assured the crowd that all of the American astronauts were toilet trained in space.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.