SpaceX capsule toilet issues mean astronauts will return to Earth in diapers

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The astronauts who will be disembarking the International Space Station in the coming days will be stuck on their way home because of the broken toilet on their capsule with diapers.

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur described the situation on Friday as “suboptimal”, but manageable.

“Space travel is full of little challenges,” she said during a press conference from orbit. “This is just one more point that we will encounter and deal with in our mission. So we’re not too worried. “

The journey home can take up to 20 hours.

Mission managers could get McArthur and her three crew members back into their SpaceX capsule before launching their replacement. This launch has already been delayed for more than a week due to bad weather and an undisclosed medical problem involving one of the crew members.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet told reporters the past six months had been intense up there. The astronauts performed a series of space walks to improve the station’s electrical grid, endured accidental engine firings from docked Russian vehicles that spun the station into brief turns, and hosted a private Russian film crew – a space station first.

They also had to deal with the toilet leak, pull up plates in their SpaceX capsule, and discover puddles of urine. The problem was first discovered during SpaceX’s private flight in September when a hose came loose and urine spilled under the floorboards. SpaceX fixed the toilet on the pod waiting to be launched, but deemed the one in orbit to be unusable.

The engineers found that the capsule was not structurally compromised by the urine and was safe for the return trip.

In culinary terms, the astronauts grew the first chilli peppers in space – “a nice boost to morale,” says McArthur. They got to taste their harvest last week and added pieces of green and red bell peppers to the tacos.

“They have a nice heat, a bit of a lingering sting,” she said. “Some found it more difficult than others.”

Also back with McArthur and Pesquet: NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. SpaceX launched them to the space station on April 23rd. Your capsule is certified for a maximum of 210 days in space, and since Friday marks its 196th day in the air, NASA is keen to get it back as soon as possible.

One American and two Russians will stay on the space station after their departure. Although it would be better if their replacements arrive first – to offer tips on living in space – Kimbrough said the remaining NASA astronaut will fill in the newcomers.

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