In Space, No One Can Hear You Flush

It’s OK to leave some dreams behind. Some dreams are meant to only be dreams. Sometimes we think we want something badly, but the more we learn about the facts, or the more we go along in life, the less we find our interest drawn in that direction. Or, the change can be instant, as it was for me and space.

Since I was a kid, reading SciFi and watching SciFi TV and movies, space sounded really neat. As I grew older, it became less realistic. I certainly did not want to join the military so the main route to space (at that time, the 70s and 80s) was closed to me. Then, along came people who wanted to send ordinary citizens into space.

A few years ago, I read an interview with Elon Musk about sending people to Mars and thought, “I would totally love to do that. It would be so cool.” I left it at that because I’m in school and I don’t have a whole lot of time to consider extraneous dreams I might like to follow some day.

~~Fast forward to about a month ago~~

Um, you know, I would have thought that by now, in the 21st century, NASA would have worked out the bathroom thing. I was reading a great thread on the inglorious life of an astronaut and when it got to that part I thought, “Meh, I can live without walking on Mars.”

I know, I sound like a wimp. But I know myself very well and the line in the sand is drawn at the bathroom. I grew up with an outhouse. Do you know how cold it is to use an outhouse in Montana? At night, since it was dark and scary, I had the option to do my business in an old tin coffee can. When I left Montana I stood up and proudly said, “With god as my witness, I’ll never use an outhouse again.” (If you don’t get the reference, you might be much younger than me.)

I’ve lightened up since then. I even worked for a while at a farm and there are no flush toilets for workers on farms. But I knew that I would go home after work, and that everywhere else around me, people were civilized enough to use a toilet.

When I learned that NASA has not progressed very far with the toilet issue in space, I decided that this was just not a dream I was truly interested in. Because what they have in space sounds far worse than just an outhouse.

Maybe Elon Musk is perfecting a system as we speak. But as it’s been over 50 years that we’ve been going into space and the best solution to the problem is still diapers, I’m not gonna hold my breath–except when I have to use an outhouse.

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