So apparently NASA
has agreed to purchase toilet technology from the Russian company RSC Energia for the tidy sum of $19 million, to be delivered to the ISS
in 2008 in preparation for a crew upsizing from three to six members. The previous system required that urine tanks be transfered to cargo ships and burned up in the Earth's atmosphere, but the new toilets operate like a waste treatment center on Earth, collecting and reconstituting urine as drinking water -- an unpleasant concept for a number of our readers, but a welcome relief for thirsty astronauts. The toilets are similar to normal models, though they employ leg restraints and thigh bars to hold the "user" in place, and high-powered fans to suck, um... waste
into the commode. The system will be installed on the American side of the station, while the Russian-side will remain as is, resulting in extremely long lines to use the "good" bathroom.