Sunday, July 17, 2011

process of elimination

"HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED HOW ASTRONAUTS GO TO THE BATHROOM?" Visitors to the men's room at the US Space And Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama were greeted with this question - at least they were the last time I was there, which was a good 25 years ago. A recorded voice led us gently but firmly through the various procedures necessary for elimination of bodily wastes in a zero gravity environment, accompanied with slides and actual examples of the various hoses, nozzles, collection bags, and accoutrements that our brave spacemen and spacewomen used to answer the call of nature outside Earth's atmosphere.

It was right around this time that the Japanese explored this selfsame scenario through the medium of -what else? Comic books. So, in honor of the last flight of America's Space Shuttle, we present a manga tutorial on How Astronauts Go To The Bathroom. Enjoy! WARNING: this deals with how astronauts go to the bathroom.

Mitsu-chan, Don, and Professor Space blast off on board the Space Shuttle for an exciting and educational visit to outer space. Many fascinating facts are revealed concerning rocketry, ballistics, orbital mechanics, radiation, and the behavior of living organisms in low-gravity environments. And in the midst of all this learning, Don's gotta take a space leak.

Everything seems to be fairly straightforward, but there are inherent difficulties involved in the ejection of liquid materials that Don has not taken into calculation.

You thought the restrooms at the ballgame were nasty? Space travel multiplies the ick factor by several thousand million as thoughtless or delinquent patrons can now contaminate, well, pretty much everything via FLYING PEE BALLS.

Thankfully astro-science was thinking ahead and provided our space environment with a handy pee-vacuum designed to clean up after Doofus here.

Proper astro-urination procedure is effected by inserting pee-nozzle apparatus (standard issue) into collection device, activating negative-pressure air control, and then allowing liquid to flow naturally into reservoir compartment. Pee-shy personnel should consult with astro-urologist.

Solid waste collection involves a giant vacuum that collects the, uh, solid waste, and is, uh, charmingly anthropomorphized. Thanks Japan.

Luckily for girls, who can't insert things into other things, there's a sit-down vacuum-enabled space toilet. And luckily for everybody, it has its own room where such things can be done in privacy. Thank goodness.

When you're finished - remember to take an astro-shower! Let's keep it clean in outer space.

Illustrations taken from the educational comic LIVING IN SPACE: SECRETS OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE.

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