“May the flush be with you."
- Don Rethke, aka “Dr. Flush,” NEAM Volunteer
One of the most unique objects in the museum's collection is the Prototype Shuttle Waste Collection System, affectionately known as the Zero Gravity Toilet. As space exploration shifted away from the Apollo era lunar missions of the 1960s and 1970s with the development of the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle, NASA was faced with an age old problem. How do you go to the bathroom in space? Rather than requiring astronauts to use their space suits as diapers or utilize cups and bags like in prior space programs, NASA gave this challenge to the engineers at Hamilton Standard (now Collins Aerospace). NEAM volunteer Don Rethke supported NASA's manned spaceflight program for more than 35 years while working at Hamilton, and was a leading contributor to the development of what has become known as the "Zero Gravity Toilet."
NEAM Volunteer Don Rethke aka "Dr. Flush" reflects on the zero gravity toilet prototype he helped develop.