New forms of propulsion in space are usually welcomed by NASA, but the flatulence-power behind the crew of Apollo 16 was a very stinky and unwelcome one.

It’s hard to imagine the crews aboard any of NASA’s eleven Apollo Program missions (including the six that landed on the moon) doing anything but serious space business: staying alive in often uncharted waters being a prime example. The three men aboard Apollo 16 had another legitimate concern, however: chronic flatulence that was an unpleasantly odiferous unwanted passenger. It made its mark on the Apollo missions, but farting in space has always been there and continues to leave its smelly calling card even today.

Did You Know?

  1. The crew of the 1971 Apollo 15 mission experienced heart arrhythmias caused by a potassium deficiency, severe enough that astronaut Jim Irwin was initially thought to be having a heart attack.
  2. As a result, when Apollo 16 launched in 1972 the three-man crew had an ample supply of orange juice chock full of potassium.
  3. On NASA’s second-to-last moon mission, Apollo 16’s crew noted the orange juice had a metallic taste and left them feeling gassy and nauseous.
  4. The crews’ complaints of excess farting, both while walking on the moon and in the capsule, were all caught on tape by Mission Control.
  5. Zero gravity presents a number of issues for manned space flights, including astronauts passing gas which naturally contains hydrogen and methane.
  6. This flammable mixture basically has nowhere to go without gravity in place, so not only would the smell be rotten the risk of it igniting is always present.
  7. CO2 is also a major concern with breathing and sleeping astronauts. When CO2 is expelled, without proper convection it would build up in front of their mouth and nose.
  8. Studies have been performed on what diet to best keep today’s astronauts, usually on lengthy missions aboard the International Space Station, relatively gas-free.
  9. Clayton Anderson, a veteran of two missions aboard the ISS, has said that during his time aboard the station crew would point their rear upwards to pass gas.
  10. Rather than saying they had farted, ISS crew members would state they were simply “sending emails”.