3.31.2009

Cosmonauts banned from using astronauts' space station toilet

Russian complains he is not allowed to use American facilities as commercial interests dent space cooperation. [=D]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/31/space-mission-russia-us

The International Space Station as seen from the US space shuttle Discovery

It was supposed to be the final frontier, where the petty jealousies of earth and other planetary concerns were left behind. But space is not the haven of international harmony it used to be. Once upon a time, astronauts on the international space station shared resources - food, equipment, facilities. But now, a veteran Russian cosmonaut has complained that he is not even allowed to use his American colleagues' exercise bike - or his toilet.

According to Gennady Padalka, commercial squabbles on earth are starting to compromise morale in space. For seven glorious years after his first space mission in 1998, Padalka said he and his American astronauts had cooperated brilliantly. All this changed in 2005 when space missions were put on a commercial footing, he said, and Moscow started billing the US for sending its astronauts into orbit.

Padalka told Novaya Gazeta newspaper that officials had rejected his request to work out on the American exercise bike during their pre-training mission. Worse than that, they had also ruled that American and Russian crew members should use their own "national toilets", with Russian crew banned from using the luxurious American astro-loo.

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