Call a plumber: With 13 aboard, space station toilet floods

The Associated PressJuly 20, 2009 

— The bathroom lines at the already crowded space shuttle and space station complex got a lot longer Sunday because of a flooded toilet.

One of two commodes aboard the international space station broke down, right in the middle of complicated robotic work being conducted by the two crews. The pump separator apparently flooded.

Mission Control advised the astronauts to hang an "out of service" sign on the toilet until it could be fixed. In the meantime, the six space station residents had to get in line to use their one good toilet. And Endeavour's seven astronauts were restricted to the shuttle bathroom.

With 13 astronauts aboard the space station, there have never been so many people together in space.

Flight director Brian Smith declined to speculate whether overuse caused the trouble.

Teams of specialists in Houston and Moscow hurriedly convened to discuss the problem. The Russian-built, multimillion-dollar toilet flew up on a shuttle last November.

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