SpaceX Astronauts Will Return to Earth Wearing Diapers Thanks to Capsule’s Broken Toilet
A crew of four astronauts will be wearing one extra accessory onboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor when they depart the International Space Station for a planned return trip to Earth today (Nov. 8).
While it's no one's first choice to pair with a space suit, the team — known as Crew-2 — will wear diapers due to an issue with the on-board toilet system.
NASA astronaut and Crew-2 member Megan McArthur confirmed the news during a press conference over the weekend, according to NPR. She described the situation as "sub-optimal" but stressed that Crew-2 would "manage."
"Space flight is full of lots of little challenges, this is just one more that we'll encounter and take care of in our mission," she added.
McArthur, who spent 200 days in space for the mission, addressed the crew's return trip on Twitter this morning. "Thank you to everyone who made this mission possible, and worked hard to make it a success," she wrote.
NPR noted that a previous SpaceX Dragon spacecraft had an issue with its waste management system. Apparently, the urine storage system disconnected during flight, which resulted in collected urine entering a fan system.
A similar problem was discovered in the spacecraft that Crew-2 will use for their return trip, which is why its toilets have been disabled. NASA and SpaceX engineers determined that a similar situation occurred when the astronauts traveled to the International Space Station in April of this year. However, they stressed that the leakage did not cause any long-lasting damage that would make the spacecraft unsafe for the return trip.
They also were able to resolve the issue in the spacecraft that a new group — named Crew-3 — will use for their trip to the space station later this week.
Crew-2 is expected to close the hatch on the spacecraft at 12:40pm ET, according to CNet. The craft will undock from the International Space Station around 2:05pm ET and is expected to touch down at one of seven landing spots along the coast of Florida around 10:33pm ET, according to NASA.
You can follow along with the ship's landing via NASA's livestream below: