If you’re familiar with any of the Apollo missions, you know how ground breaking and important they were in the history of space travel. The most famous being the Apollo 11 that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Or Apollo 13, when the lives of three astronauts were nearly lost had it not been for the quick thinking of mission command.
But today we’re talking about Apollo 10 and one harrowing moment that changed the future of space travel forever.
Apollo 10’s purpose was primarily to be a “dress rehearsal” for the moon landing that would follow with the Apollo 11 mission. Commander Tom Stafford, pilot John Young, and pilot Eugene Cernan tested the systems, procedures, and instruments, whatever was needed to be sure that the journey to the moon was safe. They even came within 8.4 miles of the moon’s surface.
The following event, as recorded by the declassified transcripts of the Apollo 10 mission is one that has gone down in NASA history as a pivotal moment when the entire space program realized a serious change had to me made.
While going through testing procedures Commander Stafford notices something floating through the shuttle:
Tom Stafford: “Who did it?”
Young: “Who did what?”
Cernan: “Where did it come from?”
Stafford: “Get me a napkin quick. There’s a turd floating through the air.”
Young: “I didn’t do it. It ain’t one of mine.”
Cernan: “I don’t think it’s one of mine.”
Stafford: “Mine was a little more sticky than that. Throw it away.”
Young: “God Almighty.”
Soooo it’s difficult to poop in space. Once it’s out it’s hard to separate the poop from your body. It sort of keeps bumping back into you like some kind of turdy bumper car. The method used during the Apollo 10 mission to contain fecal matter was…rudimentary. The astronauts would put on a “finger cot” to scoop out their poop and place it into a baggy. Tricky business in zero gravity, and as we’ve seen, not always successful.
Not only did Apollo 10 set the standard for Apollo 11’s eventual moon landing, but it also raised awareness for the need for vacuum toilets. In summary- one of the most important missions NASA ever embarked upon.