Woman tries out space ready ramen -- Kyodo Photo
NASA purchases an expensive toilet system; JAXA approves a food catalog for astronauts aboard the ISS

NASA recently agreed to purchase a $19 million Russian-made toilet system for the U.S. portion of the International Space Station.  Even though the price tag sounds extremely high, NASA officials claim it is much cheaper to buy the system instead of building one from scratch.  Another advantage of buying the Russian system is that the astronauts aboard the ISS are already familiar with how to use the toilet system.

"It's akin to building a municipal treatment center on Earth," said Lynnette Madison, NASA spokesperson.

Space toilets look similar to the ones located on Earth, except leg restraints and thigh bars are used on the space toilets to make sure the astronauts can remain in place.  The system will be installed in the ISS sometime next year.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronauts now have 29 certified Japanese food products they can eat while they work onboard the International Space Station.  Manufactured by 12 different companies, the food menu includes instant ramen noodles, curry, powdered green tea, onigiri rice balls, and an assortment of candies and seasonings.

Astronauts currently stationed on the ISS eat food from the United States and Russian, though novelty foods from other nations are sometimes taken into space with manned shuttles or supply ships.

Deciding the types of food astronauts can eat while in space remains a rather tricky matter.  All food chosen to be on the ISS must meet certain criteria -- for example, it must endure extreme temperature changes, survive up to one year in storage at zero gravity, and should be able to endure the pressure on the ride into space.  The weightless atmosphere sometimes causes a loss of flavor, forcing manufacturers to make the foods stronger than Earth food.

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