Toilet leaks forces astronauts to wear diapers on trip back to earth

The Nasa astronaut Megan McArthur described the situation as ‘suboptimal’ but manageable.

Astronauts who left the International Space Station yesterday had to wear diapers on the way home. This was due to a broken toilet in their SpaceX capsule.

Leaky Toilets and Undergarments

The leak was discovered in September when a tube came loose and urine leaked beneath the floor. At the time, a vice president at SpaceX, William Gerstenmaier said,

We’ve fixed this problem in the tank by essentially making it an all-welded structure, with no longer a joint in there that can come unglued and become disconnected.

Gersteinmaier also said that SpaceX was conducting tests to ensure the spilled liquid did not damage the orbiting capsule over the past six months. Eventually, engineers concluded that the capsule had not been structurally compromised by the urine and was safe for the ride back.

Ahead of yesterday’s trip back to earth, NASA said the astronauts will wear absorbent ‘undergarments’ rather than have access to the broken toilet during the 20-hour ride.

American astronaut Megan McArthur said on Friday that although the situation wasn’t ideal, the crew will cope with the inconvenience. Speaking at a news conference from orbit, McArthur said:

Spaceflight is full of lots of little challenges. This is just one more that we’ll encounter and take care of in our mission. So we’re not too worried about it.

Replacement Crew

McArthur and her fellow astronauts have been at the International Space Station for six months. There has been a delay in launching their replacements due to weather and an undisclosed medical issue with one crew member.

In spite of this, NASA officials have decided to bring them home. The company is hoping to launch the replacement crew into orbiton Wednesday.

The astronauts grew the first chilli peppers in space and had a taste of the harvest when they added pieces of the peppers to tacos. McArthur said:

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