Many people have written in to ask, “What is that silvery, liquescent lining inside the pants of spacesuits we occasionally see on your broadcasts?”
Well, viewers, that’s the sanitary nanopaste. You see, back in what we might call the pointy-stick era of spaceflight, the problem of the crew having to take a ‘fresher break while stuck in their vacuum suits for hours on end was handled by catheterization – it was necessary for astronauts to insert catheters into their urethra, rectum, cloaca, and/or any other excretory or partially-excretory orifices they might have in order to convey waste products to reservoirs for later disposal, and prevent them from contaminating the interior of the suit.
Apart from the occasional technical problems this had with leakage and providing pathways for infection, it was not a solution that was comfortable for anyone, or that anyone was comfortable with.
Fortunately, modern nanotechnology has provided the answer. Sanitary nanopaste selectively infiltrates one’s excretory orifices in a much more gentle manner than gross apparati (the sensation, I am told, being akin to mild tickling that rapidly becomes imperceptible), interfacing with the body’s own systems, and breaking down and compressing the body’s wastes in situ and conveying them directly and continuously, by molecular pass-the-parcel, to the vacuum suit’s recycling apparatus. In short: now, you simply never feel the need to excrete as long as you’re in your suit.
This is a much more elegant solution, obviously, and has satisfied virtually everyone – or at least everyone who isn’t overcome with squeamishness at the thought of microscopic robots roaming around in their bowels.
– Ixril Valenarius, Spaceflight Initiative Public Relations,
“This Week in Orbit”