It has been a very good day for the crew on board the International Space Station. Not only has the brand new Japanese Kibo science laboratory been activated, much to the crew’s relief, the faulty toilet has also been fixed. Russian flight engineer Oleg Kononenko was able to replace the broken urine collection pump in a 2 hour repair job yesterday (Wednesday) and specialists in Moscow checked his work to verify it was working fine. Although this may sound like a bit of minor news, it was make-or-break time for the ISS as if the repair was unsuccessful, this may have seriously hindered the manned presence on the station (and besides, we haven’t even had time to play with Kibo yet!)…
It looks like the replacement part for the ISS toilet is working as it should after it was delivered by Discovery on June 2nd. Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko successfully carried out the technical plumbing job and all seems to be flushing as it should. Although a toilet fix in space may not seem like a critical factor, 10-days without a functioning toilet on board the ISS have been difficult for the crew. Until now, all crew members have had to make do with the single toilet facility on board the Russian Soyuz vessel currently docked at the station. It is fortunate the break-down happened when it did, with enough time for the Russian space agency to send replacement parts to the US in time for Space Shuttle Discovery’s launch last weekend.
As Kononenko worked on the unglamorous task of fixing the toilet, the other astronauts were working on installing Kibo. All connections from Kibo to the station had to be made, including water supply, power and air, and today it was pressurized and powered up. The new Kibo science laboratory that was attached to the station on Tuesday following a six-hour spacewalk by two astronauts to prepare for its installation. Everything is looking good and the crew hope to open the hatch, float in and explore the station’s brand new science module some time today.
Source: USA Today