Science

Clogging Up the Diplomatic Channels


Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams tours the International Space Station's toilet hygiene station

Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams tours the International Space Station’s toilet hygiene station

The International Space Station, a multinational project, is divided into two sections: an American and Russian section. In 1998, when the venture began, it was reported that the Americans and Russians got along famously, sharing resources such as food and exercise equipment. Unfortunately, squabbles began after the first few years. One of the biggest tiffs between them has been the use of bathroom facilities. In the past, the astronauts/cosmonauts used whichever bathroom was closer, but the Russians, whose meals include such rich fare as jellied fish and borscht, have a tendency to clog the toilets and the Americans have banned them from using their potties.

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