As experts try to solve the trash menace on Earth, engineers at the Johnson Space Center are doing the same in the space shuttle compartments.
The problem: Trash created by the astronauts during extended space flights in 1992 and beyond. Each crew member produces one-half cubic foot of trash each day. Seven astronauts in space for 16 days would result in a minimum of 56 cubic feet of debris.
The answer: NASA has ground-tested a 48-pound compactor that is ready for space trials in May 1990. Compacting will reduce trash bulk for easier storage within the spacecraft's stowage compartments.
Ground test materials included food, water, flight trash, metal and plastic food containers and teleprinter pages. During the orbital space test, crew members will try several types of bags and lids.
A side benefit of the manually operated unit is physical exercise for the crew.