The astronauts on the International Space Station have to clean up their trash. Garbage from the space station has been loaded into the cargo ships that bring supplies to the station and stay there. The trash is thrown into the atmosphere after the cargo ship is set ablaze. The station shoots trash out of an airlock.
An airlock called Bishop is part of a commercial module added to the station. The release of trash from the airlock for the first time last weekend was overseen by the company that built the module, along with other companies.
The trash will burn up in the atmosphere if it leaves the airlock. The trash is put into a container that can hold up to 600 pounds of garbage, mounted in an airlock, and then taken away. You can see the trash floating away from various views when you watch the video footage of the test.
The containers were loaded by Jessica Watkins of NASA and the astronauts helped to open the hatch and depressurize the airlock.
The hope is that this method of garbage disposal will be more sustainable as well as more efficient than the current system because the astronauts don't have to hang onto their garbage until a cargo ship is scheduled to be de-orbited. They can dispose of trash like foam packing materials when they are ready.
The Bishop Airlock program manager said that waste collection in space has been a challenge for a long time. About two trash cans per week can be generated by four astronauts. With more people living and working in space, this is a critical function for everyone at home.