Space station toilet breaks down
The main toilet has broken down on the International Space Station (ISS), currently home to a record 13 astronauts, Nasa said.
ISS: Houston, we have a problem.
CAPCOM: What now, ISS? We have problems down here too, you know. The espresso machine is screwed again, for the second time this week.
ISS: I sympathise, really I do, but this problem is serious. It’s kinda delicate, I don’t know how to say this, you know, gracefully, but we have experienced malfunction of our Human Waste Processing and Disposal Facility.
CAPCOM: Oh, God. Not the HWPDF again. Have the Russians been using it? Last time they put something disgusting in and we had to get a plumber up. The callout charge put paid to half our budget. What’s happening?
ISS: Well, um, nothing goes down. It just sits there, hovering. If you don’t close the lid real fast it floats right on up out.
CAPCOM: Stand by, ISS, we’ll get someone on it.
CAPCOM: Come in ISS. Do you copy?
ISS: (Sound of coughing) Roger, Houston, loud and clear. The smell’s getting kinda bad. Any news?
CAPCOM: Plumbing wants to know if the fan’s working.
ISS: What fan?
CAPCOM: The one inside the toilet that sucks the stuff down into the pipe.
ISS: How does that work? Wouldn’t the shit hit the fan?
CAPCOM: Of course the shit hits the fan. (Sigh). It’s supposed to. The fan pulls it into the pipe and chops it up. You haven’t got any gravity there where you are, you know.
ISS: Ok, I understand. How do I find out if the fan’s working?
CAPCOM: You stick your head into the toilet and see if you can hear it. Its supposed to make a sort of whirring noise. If you can hear it it means the strum box is blocked. If it’s that, you have to stick your hand in and clear it manually.
ISS: Roger wilco. IVAN! Little job for you. Go stick your head in the toilet and see if you can hear anything. CAPCOM, what happens to the shit after it’s been chopped up?
CAPCOM: That’s classified. But, since it’s your last trip and you’re a buddy I’ll tell you. A machine adds some chemicals, presses it into casings and you guys recycle it.
ISS: What do you mean we recycle it?
CAPCOM: You know, first thing in the morning, before work.
ISS: What? No! Not…not the sausages!
CAPCOM: Have a nice day. Over and out.
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 South Africa License.