Four words you don’t want to hear in space:
“The toilet is broken.”
The crew aboard the International Space Station is working on a problem with the system for collecting solid and liquid waste, which is a trickier proposition without gravity than it is on the Earth. Space toilets use jets of fan-propelled air to guide waste into the proper container.
A NASA status report noted that last week, while using the toilet system in the Russian-built service module, “the crew heard a loud noise and the fan stopped working.” The solid waste collector is functioning properly, but the system for collecting liquid waste was not.
NASA does have some experience with this. At JSC, the 90-day crew in the Lunar-Mars Life Support Test Project (LMLSTP) Phase III collected their urine and recycled it. There was even a short-lived program to recycle human-generated solid waste. It involved a blender and an incinerator. It wasn't a pretty sight.