Zero-Gravity Testing of a Waste Management System 690644
This paper describes the testing of a waste management system designed and fabricated for use in a space vehicle. The system provides for the collection and inactivation of urine, feces, emergency diarrheal disorders, vomitus, and debris; the volumetric determination of each micturition; and onboard storage of the inactivated wastes within the waste management system compartment.
The zero-gravity test program conducted in a KC-135 aircraft provided the primary verification of the performance of the waste collection and urine volume determination functions prior to actual space flight.
The test hardware simulated the actual system to a high degree of fidelity with respect to operational characteristics of the airflow required in collection, mechanical functions and system pressure differentials, in order to minimize simulation errors. A unique, specially designed waste dispenser actually defecated and urinated to provide controlled variables of inputs to the waste management system thereby eliminating the need for a human subject for the waste management system. Variations in urine rates, quantity, and velocity as well as variations in fecal consistency, weight, and size were controlled, thereby establishing a common base to evaluate potential changes in the overall system.
The test program flexibility provided the operational inputs necessary to establish a firm design configuration to be established prior to subjecting the system to environmental qualification. The successful completion of zero-gravity tests assured the designer that the waste management system will meet specification performance requirements in the space vehicle.