Crew due to return to Earth on board a SpaceX capsule this weekend will be forced to wear nappies as a result of a toilet malfunction, in a situation one astronaut described as ‘suboptimal’.
The four astronauts are scheduled to return from the International Space Station on Sunday, November 7, however due to a problem with the capsule’s toilet they will spend the entire 20-hour journey wearing adult nappies, tactfully described by NASA as absorbent ‘undergarments’.
The issue with the capsule’s toilet was first noted by the crew in September, when they were forced to pull up parts of the spacecraft’s flooring after pools of urine began to gather on the floor. SpaceX determined that the capsule was safe to fly following the incident, but could not engineer a fix for the toilet.
NASA astronaut Megan MacArthur, who is currently on board the ISS and will travel in the capsule with her three colleagues, 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.’
The four astronauts will have spent 196 days in space, during which time they conducted a series of spacewalks, hosted the first film crew to travel to the ISS, and grew the first ever space chili peppers, AP News reports.
The SpaceX capsule is certified to spend a maximum of 210 days in space. A similar toilet issue on another capsule has been fixed prior to it’s upcoming launch with a new crew set to replace the departing astronauts. That flight was delayed following an unspecified medical issue involving one of the crew.