Late Thursday evening, a Northrop Grumman rocket is set to take off from the Virginia coast, carrying an advanced space toilet for the astronauts on the International Space Station. Touted as smaller and lighter than the current toilets on the ISS, the new commode is also supposed to be more accommodating for women astronauts needing to use the space facilities.
Called the Universal Waste Management System, the toilet is one of two upgraded toilets that NASA is making to the tune of $23 million. While the one launching tonight is destined for the ISS, a second identical toilet will also be added to NASA’s future deep-space crew capsule, called Orion. NASA plans to send astronauts to the Moon using Orion in the coming years, and the Universal Waste Management System, or UWMS, will be inside the capsule for anyone needing a pitstop along the way.