What’s one sign an astronaut never wants to see? The “occupied” sign on the space station bathroom.

We’re going back into space on today’s show, though sometimes you go into space to land on the moon, and other times it’s for, shall we say, maintenance purposes.

NASA is planning a mission to replace the toilet on the International Space Station.

Officially the replacement is called the Universal Waste Management System, and there’s a pretty good reason for the new system.

NASA is thinking ahead to future missions that might take astronauts very long distances, like, say, a mission to Mars.

Now if you’re thinking, oh, they’re going to recycle the waste water, that’s already happening.

Some astronauts have even referred to the reused water as “yesterday’s coffee.”

The idea for the new system is actually just to make the restroom process as efficient as possible, because even if the liquid is being recycled, the solids aren’t; they’re collected and stored, even if just for a time.

If you’re flying for a year or so to Mars, that’s gonna add up.

The new system has a compactor to help address that issue, and is generally intended to be cleaner and more efficient both for those using the space restroom, and for those who clean it.

Which are actually the same people, I don’t know why I separated it out like that.

And speaking of waste, this is Waste and Recycling Workers Week, paying tribute to those who collect all the stuff we toss out.

The profession dates back to the mid-14th century, when Britain passed a law calling for clean front yards as a way to stop the spread of the plague.

What were then called “breakers” went from property to property breaking up the refuse that people had piled up there.

The International Space Station is getting a new toilet this year (Space.com)

The Week of June 17th is Waste and Recycling Workers Week

Cool Weird Awesome’s backers on Patreon are very clean 

ISS bathroom photo via NASA