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NASA packs new toilet parts on shuttle for ISS

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 28, 2008
NASA stowed replacement parts aboard the Discovery shuttle Thursday to be sent up to the International Space station to fix its broken Russian toilet, the US space agency said.

After the main ISS toilet broke down Tuesday, forcing the three astronauts aboard to use the facility on the Soyuz capsule moored at the orbiting station, Russian and US space officials moved quickly to get the spare parts and a pump together in time to be sent up on Discovery, scheduled to launch Saturday.

NASA said the main ISS toilet works for solid waste disposal but has an intermittent problem handling liquid waste, after three flushes requiring 10 minutes of maintenance work by two crew members.

"It is very inconvenient at this time because it requires a lot of manual intervention," said Kirk Shireman, deputy International Space Station program manager.

Officials at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida meanwhile said there were no problems looming that might interfere with the 5:02 pm (2102 GMT) launch time Saturday.

"The vehicle and the crew and the weather and the (launch) team are all ready to go," said LeRoy Cain, who leads the mission management team.

Shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters gave it an 80 percent chance for favorable launch weather.

"We're going to definitely have good weather," she said.

Besides the toilet parts, Discovery is to freight up the largest unit of Japan's Kibo science research station, the huge pressurized module, in the second of three flights to deliver Kibo's components to the ISS.

The mission is to last 14 days and have three spacewalks, mostly to assemble and install Kibo's parts.

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Toilet breaks at International Space Station
Washington (AFP) May 28, 2008
It's bad enough when the toilet gets clogged at home; it could be a lot more serious in space, especially with visitors on the way.

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