A NASA transcript affords a glimpse of another side of life aboard the 1969 Apollo 10 space mission. The transcript was released years ago but a Reddit user recently posted a portion of it jokingly referred to as "Close Encounters of the Turd Kind."
The transcript records an explicit exchange over who might be responsible for poop floating in space. It is part of a 500-page declassified log record (PDF) of daily conversation among the mission's three astronauts: Commander Tom Strafford, lunar module pilot Gene Cernan and command module pilot John Young.
Part of the transcript reads:
Stafford: "Give 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 that away."
Cernan: "Here's another goddamn turd. What's the matter with you guys?"
Close Encounters of the Turd Kind
"Close Encounters of the Turd Kind"
According to PCMag, the incident took place on Day 6 of the eight-day mission. The May 18-26, 1969 mission took the astronauts to the Moon on a final rehearsal of the procedures and test of equipment that Apollo 11 would use during landing on the surface of the Moon.
The Apollo 10 mission came within 8.4 nautical miles of the lunar surface.
NBC News reports that the astronauts were provided with only crude facilities for disposing of solid waste.
They were provided with bags. After using a bag the astronaut seals it up and mixes disinfectant and then puts it in a waste bin.
According to a biomedical review of the Apollo mission the process required "a great deal of skill" under conditions of weightlessness in space.
he review said: "In general, the Apollo waste management system worked satisfactorily from an engineering standpoint. From the point of view of crew acceptance, however, the system must be given poor marks."
There have been significant developments in the system since the Apollo missions. According to NBC News, the International Space Station provides a more spacious and convenient facility with suction systems that assist astronauts in the delicate process of using the toilet in zero-gravity, but challenges remain, as astronaut Richard Garriot shows in the video above.