“To Charlie Duke…I am so sorry. My best, John Young’s GI Tract.” NASA photo. 

Recently, the great web site io9 published some Very Important Information about what happens when astronauts fart in space. While this is a great piece, let’s talk about some poopular digestive problems which some astronauts publicly encountered during their forays into poopdom history. 

We’ve all heard about some astronauts encountering space sickness (the most famous offenders: Frank Borman’s Apollo 8 Seconal barfs, Rusty Schweickart’s Apollo 9 general grossness and Sen. Jake Garn’s barf-tastic shuttle flight in the 1980s). However, this problem isn’t really food-related as much as being related to motion sickness. The inner ear can be really sensitive to weightlessness and sudden changes in G-forces, which is why everybody ever at NASA puked on the MASTIF trainer and the “Vomit Comet” parabolic flight plane. After Skylab 2, Dr. Joe Kerwin famously barfed his guts out after splashdown due to motion sickness, which is pretty understandable. I am a macho chick and I’ve puked after swimming. Enough said. 

Allegedly, Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean took so much Imodium before his 1969 flight that he didn’t poop for eight days. Bean made it abundantly clear that he did not want to leave any “gifts” in space. I believe Bill Anders of Apollo 8 did something similar and ate an extremely low-residue diet so he wouldn’t produce any Space Gifts. How can you all expect me to talk about poop seriously? Come on. Everybody poops!

Emily Carney is a writer, space enthusiast, and creator of the This Space Available space blog, published since 2010. In January 2019, Emily’s This Space Available blog was incorporated into the National Space Society’s blog. The content of Emily’s blog can be accessed via the This Space Available blog category.

Note: The views expressed in This Space Available are those of the author and should not be considered as representing the positions or views of the National Space Society.

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