February 3, 2023

Broken Toilet Leaves SpaceX Crew Stuck Using Diapers

The astronauts who will depart the International Space Station on Sunday will be stuck using diapers on the way home because of their capsule’s broken toilet.

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur described the situation Friday as “suboptimal” but manageable. She and her three crewmates will spend 20 hours in their SpaceX capsule, from the time the hatches are closed until Monday morning’s planned splashdown.

“Spaceflight is full of lots of little challenges,” she said during a news conference from orbit. “This is just one more that we’ll encounter and take care of in our mission. So we’re not too worried about it.”

After a series of meetings Friday, mission managers decided to bring McArthur and the rest of her crew home before launching their replacements. That SpaceX launch already had been delayed more than a week by bad weather and an undisclosed medical issue involving one of the crew.

SpaceX is now targeting liftoff for Wednesday night at the earliest.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who will return with McArthur, told reporters that the past six months have been intense up there. The astronauts conducted a series of spacewalks to upgrade the station’s power grid, endured inadvertent thruster firings by docked Russian vehicles that sent the station into brief spins, and hosted a private Russian film crew — a space station first.

They also had to deal with the toilet leak, pulling up panels in their SpaceX capsule and discovering pools of urine. The problem was first noted during SpaceX’s private flight in September, when a tube came unglued and spilled urine beneath the floorboards. SpaceX fixed the toilet on the capsule awaiting liftoff but deemed the one in orbit unusable.

Engineers determined that the capsule had not been structurally compromised by the urine and was safe for the ride back. The astronauts will have to rely on what NASA describes as absorbent “undergarments.”

On the culinary side, the astronauts grew the first chili peppers in space — “a nice morale boost,” according to McArthur. They got to sample their harvest in the past week, adding pieces of the green and red peppers to tacos.

“They have a nice spiciness to them, a little bit of a lingering burn,” she said. “Some found that more troublesome than others.”

Also returning with McArthur and Pesquet: NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. SpaceX launched them to the space station on April 23. Their capsule is certified for a maximum 210 days in space, and with Friday marking their 196th day aloft, NASA is eager to get them back as soon as possible.

One American and two Russians will remain on the space station following their departure. While it would be better if their replacements arrived first — in order to share tips on living in space — Kimbrough said the remaining NASA astronaut will fill in the newcomers.

in U.S.
Related Posts

US Senate Committees Highlight Intelligence, Security Failures in Capitol Attack  | Voice of America

June 8, 2021

June 8, 2021

Two U.S. Senate committees issued a joint report Tuesday detailing “a number of intelligence and security failures” ahead of and...

Secret Recordings Show Southern Baptist Dispute on Sex Abuse | Voice of America

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Releases of leaked letters and secret recordings from within the Southern Baptist Convention intensified Thursday as critics...

US Targets Myanmar’s Military With Another Round of Sanctions | Voice of America

July 3, 2021

July 3, 2021

The United States on Friday announced sanctions against military officials and individuals and companies tied to Myanmar’s military in the...

US: Iran Nuclear Decisions Will Rest With Khamenei, Despite Leadership Change    | Voice of America

June 20, 2021

June 20, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Sunday downplayed the importance of the election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi...

US Donates 750,000 COVID Shots to Taiwan | Voice of America

June 6, 2021

June 6, 2021

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Sunday that the global count of COVID-19 cases has reached 173 million,...

Biden ‘Will Not Let’ Justice Department Seize Reporters’ Phone, Email Records | Voice of America

May 22, 2021

May 22, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday said he would not allow his Justice Department to seize the phone or email...

House to Vote on Bill Launching Probe of Capitol Insurrection | Voice of America

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

A new committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol would have 13 members and the power...

US, EU Condemn Nigeria’s Twitter Ban  | Voice of America

June 6, 2021

June 6, 2021

ABUJA – The U.S. and the European Union voiced concern over Nigeria’s decision to indefinitely ban Twitter after the U.S....

‘I’ll Likely Never See Eye to Eye with Trump on Jan. 6’, Pence Says | Voice of America

June 4, 2021

June 4, 2021

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Former Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that he wasn’t sure that he and former President...

Biden Releases First-Ever National Plan to Fight Domestic Terrorism | Voice of America

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden has released what he described as the “first-ever” national plan to combat domestic terrorism. In a...

US Surpasses 600,000 Deaths from COVID, Leading the World | Voice of America

June 16, 2021

June 16, 2021

The United States has surpassed 600,000 dead from COVID-19, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported Tuesday. The count spans...

Biden Cites Old Data in Launch of Anti-crime Campaign | Voice of America

June 25, 2021

June 25, 2021

While unveiling his administration’s strategy for combating violent crime, President Joe Biden cited a startling statistic. Ninety percent of guns...

Fighting Corruption is Core National Security Interest, Biden Says | Voice of America

June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021

WASHINGTON – The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is formally establishing the fight against corruption as a core national...

Harris Heads to Guatemala, Mexico in First Foreign Trip as US Vice President | Voice of America

June 6, 2021

June 6, 2021

WASHINGTON – Kamala Harris left Sunday on her first trip as U.S. vice president, visiting Guatemala and Mexico on a...

Case Files From 1964 US Civil Rights Worker Killings Made Public | Voice of America

June 27, 2021

June 27, 2021

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI – Never before seen case files, photographs and other records documenting the investigation into the slayings of three...