NASA astronauts to wear diapers in SpaceX capsule on their trip back to Earth; Here's why
During a news conference from orbit, a NASA astronaut stated that spaceflight is full of small hurdles, and this is only one more that they will face and overcome during our trip.
Due to a faulty toilet in their capsule, the astronauts who will leave the International Space Station on Sunday will have to travel in diapers. Megan McArthur, a NASA astronaut, described the condition as "suboptimal" but doable on Friday. From the time the hatches are shut until the planned splashdown on Monday morning, she and her three crewmates will spend 20 hours in their SpaceX capsule.
During a news conference from orbit, she stated that spaceflight is full of small hurdles, and this is only one more that they will face and overcome during our trip. Following a series of discussions on Friday, mission managers returned McArthur and her crew to Earth before launching their successors. The launch of SpaceX had previously been postponed for more than a week owing to inclement weather and an unexplained medical issue impacting one of the crew members.
SpaceX is now aiming for a Wednesday night launch at the very least. French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who will accompany McArthur back to the space station, told reporters that the last six months had been stressful up there. The astronauts completed a series of spacewalks to upgrade the station's electrical grid and were subjected to unintentional thruster firings by parked Russian spacecraft, which caused the station to spin briefly.
They also had to cope with the toilet leak, which required them to remove panels from their SpaceX spacecraft, revealing pools of pee. On a private trip in September, SpaceX found the problem when a tube came unglued and spilled urine beneath the flooring. The toilet aboard the capsule awaiting liftoff was repaired, but the one in orbit was declared unsuitable.
Engineers found that the urine had not weakened the capsule's structural integrity and was safe for the return trip.
The astronauts planted the first chile peppers in space on the gastronomic front, which McArthur described as "a wonderful morale boost." In the last week, they enjoyed their crop by putting bits of green and red peppers into tacos.
On April 23, SpaceX launched them to the space station. Their capsule has a maximum stay in space of 210 days, and with Friday being their 196th day in orbit, NASA is keen to send them back to Earth as soon as possible. Following their departure, one American and two Russians will remain aboard the space station. While it would be preferable if their successors came early to provide ideas on living in space, Kimbrough stated that the surviving NASA astronauts would fill in for the newcomers.