Charged with writing to an astronaut, a five-year-old boy asked a burning question: How do you pee and poop in your astronaut suit? In an interview with Buzz Aldrin just published in Vanity Fair, contributing reporter Eric Spitznagel finally got this answer:
"We were well skilled in the art of disposal waste. There was such a thing called a 'blue bag,' which was kind of messy. There was a stickum on it, and you could stick it around your posterior. For urinating we had an ego-buster, which was like a condom catheter. We were cautioned not to overestimate our size. (Laughs.) Because if the condom was too big, there might be a little leakage."
The story continues: Aldrin describes in full detail what happens if you *do* have a little "leakage" (wiggle it out into a larger bag) and where astronauts flush those blue baggies. Aldrin tells Spitznagel about a newbie mistake of tossing the bags (during extra-vehicular activity) in a trajectory that brought them straight back at their capsule.
"We looked out the window and there were three bags in a row, heading straight for us."
In case, Spitznagel isn't the only one wondering about space crap, you should know that taking care of business has come a long way since blue bags. Astronauts potty train using simulators before their travels. The Space Shuttles and International Space Station both have air-flushing toilets, and the International Space Station recycles pee. Related content: Discoblog: California Lays Claim to Astronaut Garbage Left Behind on the Moon Discoblog: Scientists Examine Underwear Astronaut Wore for a Month Discoblog: Astronauts in Space Finally Enter the Intertubes Discoblog: Yum! Silkworms Could Be the Next Astronaut Food 80beats: Strife on the Space Station: Russians Can’t Use the American Toilet