An Astronomical Potty

The Endeavour crew tries out a $23 million high-end commode

THE AGENDA FOR ASTRONAUTS ABOARD THE SPACE shuttle Endeavour includes launching a communications satellite, walking in space, chatting with students about weightlessness, ringing a tiny replica of the Liberty Bell to mark Clinton's Inauguration. Oh, and yes, they'll be trying out a new toothbrush holder (price: $200,000) and an improved space toilet that cost an astronomical $23 million.

The redesigned commode is more, well, commodious than earlier models. It features an 8-in.-diameter opening (twice as big as the old design); easy-to- replace canisters (solid matter used to collect in the bowl, and astronauts sometimes had to smash it down with a...

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