Sometimes, space travel stinks.
SpaceX astronauts leaving the International Space Station on Sunday will be wearing diapers on the ride back to Earth due to a broken toilet on the company’s flagship Dragon capsule.
NASA astronaut Megan McArthur said on Friday that while the situation is certainly “suboptimal,” the crew will be able to manage using diapers for their 20-hour ride home.
“Spaceflight is full of lots of little challenges,” she said during a news conference from space. “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 astronauts uncovered the toilet leak after pulling up floor panels from the capsule. The problem first emerged during SpaceX’s private flight back in September when a tube came unglued and spilled urine beneath the floorboards.
Engineers determined that the urine did not impact the capsule and would be safe for a ride back. Instead of using the restroom, astronauts will wear absorbent “undergarments,” according to NASA.
Mission managers decided to bring McArthur and the rest of her crew, who have been at the ISS for six months, home after a series of meetings on Friday. The launch of their replacements has been pushed back for more than a week due to poor weather conditions and an undisclosed medical issue with a crew member. It is now being targeted for Wednesday night.
Returning home with McArthur will be French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshides.
One American and two Russian astronauts will remain on the station.
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