The device will be equipped with a manure bag and a pee catheter, and NASA admits that such a design does not apply to female astronauts and is looking for a solution.
Known as the Orion spacecraft crew survival system, the new unit is for astronauts carrying NASA missions on Orion spacecraft. Orion missions will send humans out of Earth's orbit, which will for the first time in half a century have left Earth's orbit. Astronauts will be able to survive in such devices for several days in the event of catastrophic failure such as decompression.
At present, diapers are only used when astronauts need spacewalk or EVA. Although this device is effective most of the time, it can occasionally leak. Kirstyn Johnson, NASA Engineer, said: "This collection of excrement has not changed much in design over the years as it still meets all of the needs."
Although diapers are easy to wear, they are limited in their ability to absorb and NASA is exploring a more enduring way. In the previous lunar missions, the spacecraft did not have a toilet. The astronauts of the time were all men and they had to wear a catheter to introduce the liquid into the bag attached to the outer space suit. While feces rely on the built-in bag spacesuit collection.
The device is prone to problems, so astronauts have specific diets that limit their excretion. Astronauts also need to be responsible for sealing and handling these bags. In 2016, NASA launched a public space "Space Expedition Challenge" in hopes of finding a better design.
The race is over this month, but according to Ms. Johnson, these designs are too late for the Orion spacecraft mission. Although the waste disposal systems of the 1970s were flawed, the latest designs are likely to be similar. The previous design was because all astronauts were men, and in the 21st century women have become as much a space explorer as men do.
The differences in physical structure create an unmanageable engineering problem for waste treatment plants. Although MAG systems are available to both men and women, this device is not designed for women. Ms. Johnson also suggested that research teams need to consider how the disposition system should function when women enter the physiology.
Although drugs can be used to limit or prevent menstruation, NASA claims it does not want to force astronauts to do so. Johnson said: "We need to design is able to apply to all normal women, and do not need to impose any additional conditions for them." NASA also hope to learn from other areas to find a suitable for women design.