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Deutsches Technikmuseum - September

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:

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The donation contains six locations:

Exhibit of the Month September 2017

Photo: The picture shows a watering can shaped white container with an orange lid. Extending from that is a handle on which a long beaker with a plastic covering is attached.

Toilet from a Sojus spaceship with waste-holding bag and urine funnel. © SDTB / Photo: C. Kirchner

Toilet from a Sojus Spacecraft, 1972

The first manned spaceflight took place at the beginning of the 1960s. Initially, there were actually no toilets aboard the spaceships.

The crew had to get by with diapers and urine bags. Even the Apollo spaceship, which had been put into operation in 1967 and had carried the Americans for their twelve-day flight to the moon, was without a toilet.

The first space vehicle in which a toilet was installed was the Sojus spacecraft, which was developed by the Soviet Union in 1968 and is still in use

The use requires a lot of attentiveness and adherence to hygienic rules

Space toilets like the one from the Sojus shown here operate with a negative pressure and thus vacuum the excrement away. The astronauts have to be careful to achieve a "good fit" to the toilet so that nothing escapes into the cabin.

Photo: The photo shows the inside of the Sojus spaceship´s orbital module. Two cosmonauts work on a desk with many devices, knobs and wires.

The Sojus cosmonauts Leonow (right) and Kubassow training in the orbital module, probably 1975. The movable toilet is stored in a niche and is not visible. © NASA

Everything must be sanitized after use in order to keep unpleasant smells to a minimum and to prevent any possible transmission of infectious disease.

The toilet is an important component of a spaceship: A malfunction can lead to a spaceflight being aborted. 


A popular motif in pop culture

Both the International Space Station (ISS) and the Space Shuttle are equipped with toilets that are somewhat more complicated than the Sojus model - they are more reminiscent of camping toilets.

Interestingly enough, the space latrine is a popular motif in pop culture: The young aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz from the "Big Bang Theory", for example, is charged with designing a properly functioning toilet for the ISS. Things have, however, gone wrong on the job; in the end Howard is disgraced and once again the audience has a good laugh.