That Stinks! SpaceX Capsule’s Leaky Toilet Forces Astronauts to Wear ‘Undergarments’

By: | November 3rd, 2021

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to the leaky toilet on SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon capsule, astronauts will have to rely on ‘undergarments’ for waste management. Astronauts won’t have access to the toilet while heading back to Earth from the International Space Station this month.

The toilet malfunctioned during the crew’s three-day journey around the Earth last month, causing urine to leak into floor panels.

“There’s a storage tank where the urine goes to be stored and there’s a tube that came disconnected or came unglued,” said William Gerstenmaier, a former associate administrator at NASA who now works as SpaceX’s head of mission assurance. “That allowed urine essentially to not go into the storage tank, but essentially go into the fan system.”

Although astronauts noticed the leakage, they could not make the necessary repairs to the lavatory with the limited resources available.

How do astronauts use the toilets in space? 

The toilet at the ISS has several attachments. Since there is no gravity in the space, the hoses are used to suck the fluid from the body. All the astronauts have their own attachments.

But when astronauts can’t use the toilet, they use the undergarments to relieve themselves in spacesuits during launches, landings, and spacewalks.  These undergarments are maximum absorbency diapers that soak up all the waste. 

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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