I'm deep-dive researching older NASA shuttles, and a few elements in this image of a toilet (which could be found on display at JSC in the early aughts) stood out to me. See the red circles I added to the original image.

enter image description here

Is anyone able to identify the function and purpose of these?

  1. The left wall looks to be covered in dials. But what are they actually?
  2. Four light blue squares that look like velcro.
  3. A wall of disks, which seem to hang from jutting bolts.

As always, I appreciate the time taken to answer these questions. Thank you for helping me fill in some blanks.


Source for the image: Wikimedia Commons

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    $\begingroup$ Normally you'd spell it "disc" unless it's a data-storage medium (floppy disk, hard disk). Although apparently (merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/…) this spelling/meaning distinction isn't as clear cut as I thought, and historically at least, "disk" did get used to describe some round things. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterCordes, Speaking as a denizen of the North East sector of the U.S.A., I always was taught just the opposite. To me, "disk" describes anything that is approximately flat and circular, while "disc" is a spelling of which I was not aware until around the time when digital audio recordings first became available in "compact disc" format. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ @SolomonSlow: Oh right, optical discs do usually get spelled "disc" (as in things like en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_Disc_Digital_Audio), because they're disc-shaped, not enclosed in a housing like a floppy diskette or hard drive. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


2 ) The blue patches are Velcro. Velcro was ubiquitous throughout the crew compartment.

1&3 ) Those disks weren't seen in the real Orbiter Waste Management Compartment (WMC). Instead the inside of the door (at the left of your photo - you call it the "left wall") and the starboard WMC wall were studded with "Towel Restraints" as shown in this picture of a real Orbiter WMC (which also shows the Towel Restraints in use). The disks in the picture may be what the Towel Restraints attach to.

enter image description here

(image source)

A number of rubber towel restraints are located on the inside of the WMC. Each restraint is 1.75 in. (4.4 cm) in diameter by 1.0 in. (2.5 cm) in height and has a 2.75-in. (7.0-cm) base with a snap attachment. The rubber top of the towel restraint has an X-type slit which allows a towel to be inserted by the crewmember for restraint. In addition, the towel restraints are color coded for each crewmember (fig. 3.15-9).

Here is Figure 3.15.9

enter image description here

Source: JSC-12770 Shuttle Flight Operations Manual Volume 12 Crew Systems pp. 3.15-18 & 3.15-19

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    $\begingroup$ Really interesting answer! Even with all I've learned about the shuttle and other spacecraft it still amazes me the sheer scale of innovation brought to it, and how many things you need to account for. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ Lovely that the towel restraints are pre-allocated, so no need to race to the shower to reserve the best spot (like deckchairs on a package holiday) - although in orbit presumably all the spots are about equally good as the tails drift around rather than the "top" restraints masking those "below" $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ @TomGoodfellow I wondered about that too. The R-for-red towel restraints are for the commander and it seems that they are some of the furthest away, while the highest-numbered mission specialists are right beside the toilet. I wonder why that was, or if there was really a special reason for it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ @GdD, without wanting to dismiss the scale of innovation at all, let me note that my old kitchen cabinets from the 70s had towel hangers just like these. So this particular innovation might not have been developed particularly for space (or it was and my kitchen used space technology). $\endgroup$
    – Emil
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Emil you grew up with a kitchen from space! $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 12:34

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