Spacesuits worn by astronauts aren’t just fancy suits but rather a life-saving tech which protects the body from pressure, decompression, harsh temperature, lack of oxygen and much more during a spacewalk or a mission outside the spacecraft or space station. NASA is currently preparing for its Orion spacecraft for which, it is developing new spacesuits for the astronomers to wear. These aren’t ordinary spacesuits but astronauts will be able to live in the suit for up to six days in any critical situation if needed. The new Orion suits known as Orion Crew Survival Systems Suits (OCSSS) will be equipped with in-suit lavatory system which was never present in any spacesuit till date.
Spacesuits are hi-tech garments equipped with a lot of instruments and features, however, in case if the astronomers have to go to the loo, he/she has to either defecate in the spacesuit which is why astronauts wear diapers within their spacesuit made up of Maximum Absorbency Garments (MAG’s). The other way around to relieve oneself in space is to return to the spacecraft and use the lavatory inside the facility. A NASA engineer stated that things can get messy and gnarly inside the spacesuit if the astronauts are in there for long. When the Apollo mission was launched to Moon, there was no lavatory onboard. The crew members had to use an alternative to relieve themselves during the mission. The crew (all-male) had to wear a condom-like catheter on their penis which was connected to a urine collection bag via tube and diapers helped them with the latrine.
Thus, NASA is developing a waste disposal system within the spacesuit. Although the tech for men is near to completion, there are many challenges yet to be made for female crew members onboard. According to Kirstyn Johnson who is a NASA engineer, the anatomy and geometry of woman’s body are different. The engineers will have keep periods in mind when developing such as tech. Another major concern for women is pubic hair. It is because liquid tends to form gloomy structure when in contact with microgravity. Since it the urine has to be relieved, the liquid lingering around the pelvic area can cause skin damage or breakdown. Engineers are developing the waste disposal system for the woman which will take some more time. The tube system used by women in the military and those flying fighter planes is being used as a general design, however, the size of the system is required to be similar to that of a sanitary napkin.
Astronauts will wear the new spacesuit onboard Orion Spacecraft which was announced in 2014. NASA is determined to take a step forward with Orion taking crew members beyond the low-earth orbit with an astonishing speed of more than 20,000 miles per hour. It is expected to reach Mars in six months carrying crew members on an 18-month long mission.