Astronauts Return To Earth Wearing Diapers Due To A Broken Toilet

The journey back to Earth from space is never easy, but the astronauts aboard the SpaceX capsule had an extra challenge to deal with.

Credit: John Raoux/AP

Four astronauts splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico Monday, November 8, ending an eventful six-month stay on the International Space Station. When it comes to unfortunate events, for instance, the crew was when the mission was forced off its trajectory twice during the astronauts’ expedition because of errant thruster firings.

However, that wasn’t the only mechanical failure. The capsule’s toilet broke, too.

The members on SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor were wearing diapers as they splashed down. I mean, they wouldn’t want anything else to splash down in the capsule, right?

A few days before the planned landing in the Gulf of Mexico, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur confirmed in a press conference that the toilets on board Dragon Endeavor were broken.

“Of course that’s sub-optimal, but we’re prepared to manage,” she said with a smile. “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.”

This is not the first toilet issue on a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

An alarm went off on SpaceX’s all-tourist flight earlier this year, signaling a problem with the onboard waste management system. Bill Gerstenmaier, a vice president at SpaceX, later said in a press conference that the spacecraft’s urine storage system had become disconnected in flight, allowing pooled urine to enter a fan system. It didn’t cause any major problems on that flight.

The successful splashdown came at a busy time for human spaceflight.

SpaceX is scheduled to launch another quartet of astronauts to the space station — a mission that had been scheduled to lift off last week but was delayed because of weather and an astronaut’s illness.

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Matt Sterner

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