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The crew of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule are set to make history during their May 27 test flight to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will ride to space in what will be the Kennedy Space Center's first manned launch in nearly a decade. But the real burning question isn't attached the the inclement weather, the private corporate interests, or the national pride associated with returning to orbit from American soil — it's about pooping.
Over the course of the livestreamed launch (seen below), Behnken and Hurley will be spacebound for a long time in that capsule if all goes well.
They won't arrive at the ISS until May 28, in fact, so they'll have almost an entire day of confined sitting/floating to accommodate. That means bathroom technology was a must. What exactly that technology is — and how it'll function — seems to be one of the more mysterious elements of the launch. "I don't know the potty answer to the potty question," said SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann during a Monday news conference. And few people are talking about how it works at all.
NASA's been mum on the subject while Business Insider's investigation found out that it was on the capsule's ceiling. "I don't know if the toilet is really cool, necessarily, but it is there," ex-astronaut/-Dragon developer Garrett Reisman told them. According to Space.com, even those going onboard the Crew Dragon capsule aren't necessarily sure how it'll go. "We'll let you know how it works out," Hurley said back on May 1 with regards to using the mysterious toilet. "We'll let you know when we get back."
But even that might not be something that happens, if Reisman is to be believed. The consultant elaborated that the astronauts probably won't even use the (perhaps needlessly secretive) facilities on Crew Dragon and instead "hold it," because going to the bathroom in space is so little fun.
"I can tell you from personal experience, and data collected by NASA — it's kind of like going on a camping trip, in the sense that, for the first 24 hours, your body kind of shuts down a little bit as far as the digestive system goes," Reisman said. "So, I guess where I'm going with this is, I don't think there's going to be a whole lot of pooping on Dragon."
Launches are great and going to space rocks, but the more mysterious and evasive these toilet answers are, the more the world will want to know: how is SpaceX making these astronauts poop?