It is clear everyone that going to space is a big deal for almost everyone, and it is a known fact to me that whenever I do something important for myself, pretty much everything goes out of my body as a liquid. This raises the following immediate question:

If an astronaut needs to go to the toilet during launch, what can/need they do?

It would also be interesting to know what kind of preventative measures are taken (if any) before the launch.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A good dramatization of the problem can be seen in the movie The Right Stuff. It's worth watching. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Jun 25 '20 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ "what can/need to they do?" Huh? Can you rephrase, please? $\endgroup$
    – Evorlor
    Jun 25 '20 at 23:13
  • 19
    $\begingroup$ Well, it Depends. $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Jun 25 '20 at 23:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Everything you need to know (or not) about peeing in space, with some nuggets of knowledge about before the launch: twitter.com/MaryRobinette/status/1152277166996017152 $\endgroup$
    – Guillaume
    Jun 26 '20 at 4:53
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This is why you go before you leave on a long trip. $\endgroup$ Jun 26 '20 at 19:29

They use three high-tech procedures:

  • They schedule and ration their fluid and food intake.
  • They go to the bathroom before the trip.
  • They wear diapers, sorry, I meant Maximum Absorbency Garment.

In other words: they do exactly what you do before a trip. Minus the diaper, probably.

So, the answer to your question is the third point: they just pee in their pants, whereas points 1 and 2 are to avoid the problem in the first place.

  • 18
    $\begingroup$ Alan Shepard was the first astronaut to urinate into his suit. Without maximum absorbency garment. He had to suffer a long launch delay of two and a half hours for a mission less than 20 minutes. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jun 25 '20 at 13:39
  • 15
    $\begingroup$ Crewmembers told me they had to practice preflight to overcome a lifetime of habit / 'toilet training' and be able to go in the diaper. $\endgroup$ Jun 25 '20 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ American launches, at least, have a bathroom at the top of the tower, right before entering the rocket. Plus they quarantine for several days before launch to avert any risks. $\endgroup$ Jun 27 '20 at 1:58

One of the main traditions and rituals of Soviet cosmonautics- all crew must urinate on the right rear wheel of their bus: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20140610-the-strange-rituals-of-cosmonauts

enter image description here

With a cleansing enema launch day begins.

To help ease our difficulty, we are offered a pre-launch enema. Administered by our flight surgeons, this allows us to launch with a clear mind and a clean colon.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ it is funny, but unfortunately, that is not an answer. $\endgroup$
    – Our
    Jun 25 '20 at 7:24
  • 16
    $\begingroup$ @onurcanbektas that is true, but it is also a tradition to post this as an answer to questions about to urination before flight, I suppose this is also good luck? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 25 '20 at 8:27
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Hmm... This ritual seems like it would have been problematic for the 3 female cosmonauts... $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Jun 25 '20 at 15:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @reirab Pee funnel. $\endgroup$ Jun 25 '20 at 16:30
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ @reirab According to the linked article, "Female astronauts have been known to bring vials of their urine to splash on the wheel." $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Jun 25 '20 at 20:37

I would think that they would just hold it as the whole trip is only 8 minutes and it the g-force is large so you would just go up there. I hope this can help: https://science.howstuffworks.com/bathroom-in-space.htm#:~:text=So%20how%20do%20astronauts%20go,equipped%20with%20a%20unisex%20toilet.&text=To%20ensure%20that%20the%20waste,body%20and%20flushes%20it%20away.

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Stack Exchange! Please don't just give a link. What if the link stops working? If you describe its contents briefly you'll have written a much more useful answer for current & future audiences. $\endgroup$ Jun 25 '20 at 9:07
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ This is a pretty narrow definition of "during launch", which technically answers the question, but I doubt that it was this definition the OP had in mind. When we colloquially refer to the term "launch", we don't just mean the time from liftoff to engine cutoff. Astronauts are generally strapped down tight in their seats hours before the actual launch, and stay there for quite a while even after achieving orbit. $\endgroup$ Jun 25 '20 at 10:51
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I don't believe that link addresses the launch phase at all. $\endgroup$ Jun 25 '20 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ Please see Why do they make the astronauts sit in Crew Demo-2 for so long? It's not like they can just stop to take a pee, then sit down and launch. They get into those suits and then the seats long before launch time. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 26 '20 at 1:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.