SpaceX broken toilet issue forces astronauts to wear diapers on ride home

SpaceX astronauts will be all wrapped up during their flight back from the International Space Station — in diapers.

Those pesky toilet issues that plagued a previous flight back in September are back with a flourish.  Turns out the toilet is broken … again. So, without a proper receptacle on the Dragon capsule, the crew will have to resort to cruder methods of release.

The NASA astronauts have been in the International Space Station and the plan is for them to return to earth Sunday.  Astronaut Megan McArthur classically understated the problem by calling the situation “suboptimal.”

The ride back to earth is 20 hours, so diapers are essential to avoid a disgusting mess.

As for the toilet … well, it appears to be leaking under the floorboard, which required the astronauts to disable it.

Toilet trouble

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 moral 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.


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