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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: ‘Toilet row’ lowers space morale

The International Space Station, once a place where astronauts would share food and facilities, is said to be embroiled in a Cold War-like stand-off.

A Russian cosmonaut has complained he is no longer allowed to use a US toilet as well as a US exercise bike.

[...]

Before he lifted off to join the ISS crew on Thursday, Mr Padalka had asked whether he could use a US gym to stay fit.

“They told me: ‘Yes, you can.’ Then they said no,” Novaya Gazeta quoted him as saying.

“Then they hold consultations and they approve it again. And now, right before the flight, it turns out again that the answer is negative.”

Worse still, the regulations now required US and Russian cosmonauts to eat their own rations, he added.

“They also recommend us to only use national toilets,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

“Cosmonauts are above the ongoing squabble, no matter what officials decide,” he told the newspaper. “It’s politicians and bureaucrats who can’t reach agreement, not us.”

The story blames increased commercialization of the station:

space missions became more commercial in 2003 and Moscow started billing Washington for sending its astronauts into space, he said. Other nations responded in kind, he added.

And, there are now more folks up there. Strangely, the infusion of cash and more people has lead to conflict. Who knew?

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