Page last updated at 23:46 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 00:46 UK

Space station crew repair toilet

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An astronaut works to fix the toilet

Crew members have fixed a toilet at the International Space Station with a pump delivered by the shuttle Discovery.

After three tests, the toilet appeared to be working, according to an update from US space agency Nasa.

The toilet's urine collection unit had been broken, meaning that astronauts had to operate a pump manually.

Astronauts also opened a Japanese laboratory Kibo, which will be used for the study of biomedicine and material sciences at the station.

Discovery arrived at the space station on Monday after a two-day voyage.

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Russian Oleg Kononenko worked to replace the toilet pump and install new hoses in the Russian Zvezda module for more than two hours.

Spare parts for the Russian-built toilet had been rushed from Moscow to Florida ahead of Discovery's launch.

Two Russians and one American had been using alternative facilities on the Soyuz capsule because of the breakage.

Correspondents say the toilet problem had become the main topic of conversation at Nasa press conferences.

"It's unfortunate we're talking about toilets, but that really is the life, that's the future of human exploration in space," said deputy space station programme manager Kirk Shireman.

"I don't take it as a really bad thing. It's just something perhaps everyday people can really relate to."

Space urinals generally use jets of air to guide waste down a tube into a container, where it is then separated into liquid and gas.


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