Toilet back in service on crowded space station

Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:52pm EDT
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - After a tiring day of spacewalking, astronauts can enjoy at least one creature comfort: a working toilet.

While spacewalkers David Wolf and Thomas Marshburn worked outside the International Space Station on Monday stashing spare parts, crewmates repaired the outpost's broken toilet.

With a record 13 people aboard the station, it wasn't a good time for the station's main commode, which is connected to a water and urine recycling system, to fail.

The crews had to use toilets in the Russian side of the station and on shuttle Endeavour.

Overuse of the shuttle's toilet could have been a problem because its water tank can't be emptied while Endeavour is parked at the station. Dumping the wastewater overboard, which is typically how the tank is emptied, might contaminate the station's new outdoor experiments porch, which was installed during a spacewalk on Saturday.

On Monday, Wolf and Marshburn positioned a spare pump and other gear that may be needed to keep the station operational after the shuttle fleet is retired next year.

The shuttle crew has three more spacewalks planned during their 11-day visit to the station.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz, editing by Jane Sutton)

<p>Astronaut Tom Marshburn is seen outside the Qwest airlock in this view from fellow spacewalker Dave Wolf's helmet camera as the pair work outside the International Space Station during their projected 6.5 hour excursion in this image from NASA TV July 20, 2009. REUTERS/NASA TV</p>