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JackAdams's avatar

What are the operating instructions (in outer space) for a ZERO GRAVITY TOILET?

Asked by JackAdams (6574points) October 11th, 2008

In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, there was humorous scene where Dr. Heywood R. Floyd was on a Pan Am Space Shuttle, and he was seen standing in front of the instructions for using such a device, intently reading them.

I own a DVD of that movie, but no amount of zooming makes that sign clear enough for me to read it. Does anyone know what those instructions might say? Or what the instuctions really are, for using such a device on the MIR Space station?

And to beat stratman37 to the PUNch, I’m sure that using one would be no MIR feat, but I’ll certainly be relieved to find out what they are, and I know for a fact that the astronauts and cosmonauts all use Ex-Lax, to keep their systems “GO.” And lastly, I hope I will get a response from him, without any Dullea. (My apologies for this self-defecating humor.)

This question was inspired by this article, and reminded me that I had always wanted to know how a space lavatory functioned, but again, my question mostly concerns what the instructions were, in the 1968 movie I mentioned.

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8 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

My dad had a paperback “making of” book in the early ‘70s that showed a full-page photo of the instruction panel. I’m sure someone out there has scanned it.

JackAdams's avatar

I’ll look for that book at my Public Library. Thanks!

eambos's avatar

I believe it use the vacuum of space to pull the excrement out of the shuttle. After defecating, a small port it open, creating a vacuum that will drag the mass out.

JackAdams's avatar


It’s not bad enough that you Earthlings are polluting your air, soil and oceans, now you have to foul the rest of the Universe as well.

Your kind (“polluters”) would never be welcome on my home planet [Quertzl], ever.

Magnus's avatar

Hold tight, sit tighter.

Lovelocke's avatar

Jeez. Look it up on -on the lefthand side is a trivia button. It has the directions there printed in it’s entirety.

JackAdams's avatar

The full text of the Zero Gravity Toilet Instructions:


1. The toilet is of the standard zero-gravity type. Depending on requirements, System A and/or System B can be used, details of which are clearly marked in the toilet compartment. When operating System A, depress lever and a plastic dalkron eliminator will be dispensed through the slot immediately underneath. When you have fastened the adhesive lip, attach connection marked by the large “X” outlet hose. Twist the silver coloured ring one inch below the connection point until you feel it lock.

2. The toilet is now ready for use. The Sonovac cleanser is activated by the small switch on the lip. When securing, twist the ring back to its initial-condition, so that the two orange lines meet. Disconnect. Place the dalkron eliminator in the vacuum receptacle to the rear. Activate by pressing the blue button.

3. The controls for System B are located on the opposite wall. The red release switch places the uroliminator into position; it can be adjusted manually up or down by pressing the blue manual release button. The opening is self adjusting. To secure after use, press the green button which simultaneously activates the evaporator and returns the uroliminator to its storage position.

4. You may leave the lavatory if the green exit light is on over the door. If the red light is illuminated, one of the lavatory facilities is not properly secured. Press the “Stewardess” call button on the right of the door. She will secure all facilities from her control panel outside. When green exit light goes on you may open the door and leave. Please close the door behind you.

5. To use the Sonoshower, first undress and place all your clothes in the clothes rack. Put on the velcro slippers located in the cabinet immediately below. Enter the shower. On the control panel to your upper right upon entering you will see a “Shower seal” button. Press to activate. A green light will then be illuminated immediately below. On the intensity knob select the desired setting. Now depress the Sonovac activation lever. Bathe normally.

6. The Sonovac will automatically go off after three minutes unless you activate the “Manual off” over-ride switch by flipping it up. When you are ready to leave, press the blue “Shower seal” release button. The door will open and you may leave. Please remove the velcro slippers and place them in their container.

7. If the red light above this panel is on, the toilet is in use. When the green light is illuminated you may enter. However, you must carefully follow all instructions when using the facilities during coasting (Zero G) flight.

Inside there are three facilities:
(1) the Sonowasher,
(2) the Sonoshower,
(3) the toilet.

All three are designed to be used under weightless conditions. Please observe the sequence of operations for each individual facility.

8. Two modes for Sonowashing your face and hands are available, the “moist-towel” mode and the “Sonovac” ultrasonic cleaner mode. You may select either mode by moving the appropriate lever to the “Activate” position. If you choose the “moist-towel” mode, depress the indicated yellow button and withdraw item. When you have finished, discard the towel in the vacuum dispenser, holding the indicated lever in the “active” position until the green light goes on… showing that the rollers have passed the towel completely into the dispenser. If you desire an additional towel, press the yellow button and repeat the cycle.

9. If you prefer the “Sonovac” ultrasonic cleaning mode, press the indicated blue button. When the twin panels open, pull forward by rings A & B. For cleaning the hands, use in this position. Set the timer to positions 10, 20, 30 or 40… indicative of the number of seconds required. The knob to the left, just below the blue light, has three settings, low, medium or high. For normal use, the medium setting is suggested.

10. After these settings have been made, you can activate the device by switching to the “ON” position the clearly marked red switch. If during the washing operation, you wish to change the settings, place the “manual off” over-ride switch in the “OFF” position. you may now make the change and repeat the cycle.

(The above must have been recently added, because I never saw these on that site, previously. Thanks for finding them for me. Lurves to you!)

elijahmurray's avatar

I would just say, poop in an airlock! (hehe. that should be a bumper sticker)

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