Alt. Title: The Multi-Million Dollar Toilet of NASA Costs an Entire Mansion

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is widely known to spend a big chunk of the US’ budget. In 2020, the government allotted a whopping $22.629 billion for the federal agency to spend for all its research and other expenditures. The next year, it rose to $23.3 billion that they might have hired someone with a finance degree to manage this amount. However, there is one thing that many might find lavish because of how the money was spent — a $23 million toilet. Yes, one could possibly live in luxury with this number. Purchase an estate in Hollywood Hills, buy his favorite Bugatti or Lamborghini car, and the remaining can be used as investment money to put up a business.

Well, this toilet called the Universal Waste Management System, was sent to space in October 2020, via cargo capsule of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus. Aside from this one, the almost 8,000-pound delivery also includes tools for scientific investigations, supplies, and cargo, for the International Space Station. The launch happened at Wallops Island in Virginia where NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility was located. According to CNET, this equipment weighs 45 kilograms or 100 pounds, while on, the official image of the toilet was posted and it is said to measure 28-inches tall and has six distinct parts: lid, seat, urine pretreat tank, urine hose, urine funnel, and the urine transfer system (UTS). The UWMS was 65% smaller than the previous, and significantly lighter. Astronauts will reportedly give it a test run for the month’s proceedings to see if this could replace the current toilet that was designed in the 1990s.

The advance design of this valuable sanitary hardware was well thought of to any degree. The emphasizes the urine funnel and seat that were “created to be more accommodating for female crew members.” Credits to Collins Aerospace because they developed the titanium dual fan separator, which was 3D-printed, that can deliver a powerful airflow and assist the astronauts’ stool and urine into a bag. After an astronaut poops, he or she has to seal the package down the canister. Another bag must be installed then and the cycle repeats for almost 30 times. Once the collection bin is full, all of their business and trash are then discarded in outer space.

In addition, the titanium layout enhances the current pretreat system, as this operates to treat and accumulate the /// space crews’ urine before recycling. It also features an automatic starting system that puts its predecessors to shame as they are still using an on-off switch, just like an electricity switch.

Before the delivery, Expedition 63 astronauts, Ivan Vagner and Chris Cassidy, prepared for it and reports mentioned that they would use the robotic arm of the Canadarm2’s to seize the Cygnus spacecraft. On the other hand, Mellissa Mckinley, the project manager of NASA Advanced Exploration Systems Logistics Reduction stated in a news conference that upon arrival, the UWMS will be placed adjacent to the existing toilet. Smithsonian Magazine stated, if this performs the way they expected it to, another one of this will be used for the upcoming Artemis 2 lunar mission and a human expedition to the planet Mars in the near future.

Convenience and inclusivity are the two main reasons why the federal agency spent a lot of dollars for this space equipment. Although astronauts do not have to pay a mortgage there, we should point out that living outside the planet alone is very difficult, and answering the call of nature is making it harder. This is not the first time though, remember the Perseverance rover which landed on Mars in February 2021? The entire project costs the government a staggering $2.725 billion for a two-year mission.

Photo Sources:
Cover – NASA via Kim Deyir,
Photo #1 – NASA via C/net,
Photo #2 – NASA via Architectural Digest